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India lost 6.8 million salaried jobs and 3.5 million entrepreneurs in November alone. Many among the unemployed can no longer afford to buy food, causing a significant spike in hunger. The country's economy is finding it hard to recover from COVID waves and lockdowns, according to data from multiple sources. At the same time, the Indian government has reported an 8.4% jump in economic growth in the July-to-September period compared with a contraction of 7.4% for the same period a year earlier. This raises the following questions: Has India had jobless growth? Or its GDP figures are fudged? If the Indian economy fails to deliver for the common man, will Prime Minister Narendra Modi step up his anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim rhetoric to maintain his popularity among Hindus?
|Labor Participation Rate in India. Source: CMIE|
India lost 6.8 million salaried jobs and its labor participation rate (LPR) slipped from 40.41% to 40.15% in November, 2021, according to the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). In addition to the loss of salaried jobs, the number of entrepreneurs in India declined by 3.5 million. India's labor participation rate of 40.15% is lower than Pakistan's 48%. Here's an except of the latest CMIE report:
"India’s LPR is much lower than global levels. According to the World Bank, the modelled ILO estimate for the world in 2020 was 58.6 per cent (https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.TLF.CACT.ZS). The same model places India’s LPR at 46 per cent. India is a large country and its low LPR drags down the world LPR as well. Implicitly, most other countries have a much higher LPR than the world average. According to the World Bank’s modelled ILO estimates, there are only 17 countries worse than India on LPR. Most of these are middle-eastern countries. These are countries such as Jordan, Yemen, Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Senegal and Lebanon. Some of these countries are oil-rich and others are unfortunately mired in civil strife. India neither has the privileges of oil-rich countries nor the civil disturbances that could keep the LPR low. Yet, it suffers an LPR that is as low as seen in these countries".
|Labor Participation Rates in India and Pakistan. Source: World Bank...|
|Labor Participation Rates for Selected Nations. Source: World Bank/ILO|
Youth unemployment for ages15-24 in India is 24.9%, the highest in South Asia region. It is 14.8% in Bangladesh 14.8% and 9.2% in Pakistan, according to the International Labor Organization and the World Bank.
|Youth Unemployment in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Source: ILO, WB|
In spite of the headline GDP growth figures highlighted by the Indian and world media, the fact is that it has been jobless growth. The labor participation rate (LPR) in India has been falling for more than a decade. The LPR in India has been below Pakistan's for several years, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO).
|Indian GDP Sectoral Contribution Trend. Source: Ashoka Mody
|Indian Employment Trends By Sector. Source: CMIE Via Business Standard|
|World Hunger Rankings 2020. Source: World Hunger Index Report|
Hunger and malnutrition are worsening in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia because of the coronavirus pandemic, especially in low-income communities or those already stricken by continued conflict.
India has performed particularly poorly because of one of the world's strictest lockdowns imposed by Prime Minister Modi to contain the spread of the virus.
Hanke Annual Misery Index:
Pakistan's Real GDP:
Vehicles and home appliance ownership data analyzed by Dr. Jawaid Abdul Ghani of Karachi School of Business Leadership suggests that the officially reported GDP significantly understates Pakistan's actual GDP. Indeed, many economists believe that Pakistan’s economy is at least double the size that is officially reported in the government's Economic Surveys. The GDP has not been rebased in more than a decade. It was last rebased in 2005-6 while India’s was rebased in 2011 and Bangladesh’s in 2013. Just rebasing the Pakistani economy will result in at least 50% increase in official GDP. A research paper by economists Ali Kemal and Ahmad Waqar Qasim of PIDE (Pakistan Institute of Development Economics) estimated in 2012 that the Pakistani economy’s size then was around $400 billion. All they did was look at the consumption data to reach their conclusion. They used the data reported in regular PSLM (Pakistan Social and Living Standard Measurements) surveys on actual living standards. They found that a huge chunk of the country's economy is undocumented.
Pakistan's service sector which contributes more than 50% of the country's GDP is mostly cash-based and least documented. There is a lot of currency in circulation. According to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the currency in circulation has increased to Rs. 7.4 trillion by the end of the financial year 2020-21, up from Rs 6.7 trillion in the last financial year, a double-digit growth of 10.4% year-on-year. Currency in circulation (CIC), as percent of M2 money supply and currency-to-deposit ratio, has been increasing over the last few years. The CIC/M2 ratio is now close to 30%. The average CIC/M2 ratio in FY18-21 was measured at 28%, up from 22% in FY10-15. This 1.2 trillion rupee increase could have generated undocumented GDP of Rs 3.1 trillion at the historic velocity of 2.6, according to a report in The Business Recorder. In comparison to Bangladesh (CIC/M2 at 13%), Pakistan’s cash economy is double the size. Even a casual observer can see that the living standards in Pakistan are higher than those in Bangladesh and India.
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Long #DoctorStrike over understaffing sparks chaos at #NewDelhi hospitals. While #India’s overall case count remains low, daily infections in the capital region have risen by more than 300% over the past two weeks. #OmicronInIndia #Omicron #Modi #COVID19 https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/28/world/new-delhi-doctor-strike.ht...
Protests continued across the country and outside major hospitals in New Delhi on Tuesday, a day after police officers in the capital detained more than 2,500 protesting doctors who were walking toward the residence of India’s health minister.
Medical students from across India have joined the protests, which intensified two weeks ago and have grown angrier after police officers were seen beating junior doctors during a march on Monday.
The New Delhi government has expressed concern over a rising number of coronavirus cases and announced new measures, including a nighttime curfew, to slow the spread of the virus. While the country’s overall case count remains low, daily infections in the capital region have risen by more than 300 percent over the past two weeks, according to the Our World in Data Project at the University of Oxford. It is unclear how many of the new cases are of the Omicron variant.
As the doctors’ strike has stretched on, drawing in recent graduates and tens of thousands of the more than 70,000 doctors who work at government medical facilities nationwide, emergency health services have been the worst hit.
Videos from major state-run hospitals in New Delhi have shown patients on stretchers lying unattended outside emergency rooms. Many Indians rely on state medical facilities for care because of the high cost of treatment at private hospitals.
The protests were triggered by delays in placing medical school graduates in jobs at government health facilities, as India’s Supreme Court considers an affirmative action policy aimed at increasing the share of positions reserved for underrepresented communities. Protesting doctors say they are not against the quotas, but want the court to expedite its decision so that graduates can begin their jobs.
During India’s catastrophic coronavirus wave earlier this year, doctors and other medical personnel found themselves short-handed and underfunded as they battled an outbreak that at its height was causing 4,000 deaths a day. Doctors associations say that more 1,500 doctors have died from Covid since the pandemic began.
#India was slow to identify and publicize the emergence of #DeltaVariant, setting off deadly global resurgence of #COVID19 that took millions of lives. #Modi #BJP #Hindutva #Islamophobia https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2021-12-29/how-delta-varian...
Unknown at the time, Amravati’s flare-ups were the first visible warning that the SARS-CoV-2 variant now known as delta had started along its devastating path. Within weeks, thousands of people flooded Amravati’s underfunded healthcare network as the city turned into Ground Zero for what would become the most confounding version of the pathogen first identified in Wuhan, China a year earlier.
Amravati was a precursor to the horrors that would grip all of India, and spread globally. As January drew to a close, Bhushan was already sensing that the city of more than 600,000 residents was becoming a petri-dish for a form of Covid-19 his team hadn’t treated before. Earlier, patients’ symptoms improved in under two weeks, but now they were battling the virus for “almost 20 to 25 days,” he said. “It was a nightmarish situation.”
Despite those first, ominous signs, what followed goes some ways toward explaining why two years into this pandemic, the world remains on the brink of economy-shattering shutdowns, with another new variant emerging out of vulnerable, under-vaccinated populations. But while South Africa acted swiftly last month to decode the heavily mutated omicron and publicize its existence, India’s experience perhaps better reflects the reality faced by most developing countries – and the risks they potentially pose.
India’s hampered response was characterized by months of inertia from the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and a startling lack of resources, according to interviews with two dozen scientists, officials, diplomats and health workers. Many asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak to the media or were concerned about talking publicly about India’s missteps.
The actions India did — and didn’t take — as delta emerged, ultimately saddled its people and the world with a ruthlessly virulent incarnation of the coronavirus, one that challenged vaccines and containment regimes like none before it. Delta upended even the most successful pandemic strategies, snaking into countries like Australia and China with stringent “Covid Zero” curbs in place and effectively closed borders. It’s been the most dominant form of Covid for much of this year, when more than 3.5 million people died of the virus — almost double the toll during the first year of the pandemic.
Multiple scientists interviewed by Bloomberg News said that the way India handled the early days of delta fueled its rise. The variant’s identification was delayed because the country’s laboratories were flying blind for much of 2020 and early 2021, partly because Modi’s government had restricted imports of vital genetic sequencing compounds under a nationalistic agenda to drive self sufficiency, they said. There were repeated efforts to warn the administration about the new strain in early February, the scientists said, yet India went public with details of the more transmissible variant only at the end of March.
#India's staggering COVID-19 death toll could be 6 million, by far the highest #COVID19 death toll in the world -- greater than the #US at more than 811,000. #Modi #BJP #pandemic #Delta #OmicronVariant - ABC News - https://abcn.ws/30UZSLO via @ABC
Even though omicron is quickly becoming the more dominant form of Covid in the U.S. and elsewhere, quick action has bought time for scientists to decode the extent of its transmissibility and severity. South Africa identified and broadcast details of the new variant just weeks after seeing a spike in cases in one province.
By contrast, for much of 2020, India’s efforts tracking the virus were sparse, meaning the exact origin of delta still remains murky. To date, the country has only sequenced and shared 0.3% of its total official infections to the GISAID database.
India has been held back by the fact that only a handful of government laboratories and states were making consistent efforts in the first year of the pandemic to map the virus, even as millions were being infected in the country’s first wave, according to people familiar with the matter. Bhramar Mukherjee, an epidemiologist and biostatistics chair at the University of Michigan's School of Public Health, said India’s sequencing efforts were hurt by “bureaucracy, politics and a sense of exceptionalism that we have conquered Covid and there is no need to worry about variants.”
“The need to share data and samples is so key,” she said. “When South Africa started collaborating and sharing with the rest of the world, progress also increased like a process of contagion: exponentially. India is always protective of its own data.”
Inside India’s scientific agencies a lack of institutional dynamism, along with a culture of subservience to Modi’s government — highly sensitive to commentary on its handling of the virus — had taken hold, said one former official. That meant critical questions weren’t being aired by experts out of fear they’d derail their careers, the person said. In many cases, India’s health ministry simply wasn’t listening to or making decisions based on advice coming from those expert bodies, according to this official.
Attempts to ramp up sequencing in India were also critically curtailed by an inadvertent ban in May 2020 on the import of reagents, the chemical needed to fuel sequencer machines. The `Make in India’ campaign, Modi’s drive to ensure the country is less reliant on places like China, meant publicly-financed labs weren’t able to import items worth less than 2 billion rupees ($26.5 million) for months. India mostly uses sequencers manufactured by San Diego-based Illumina Inc. and the U.K.’s Oxford Nanopore Technologies Plc, which run on patented reagents that can’t be substituted locally.
Scientists in India and abroad now provide varying dates for when delta began circulating there. Samples retrospectively added to GISAID show at least one delta-linked lineage in India as far back as September last year, while the World Health Organization places its first discovery there in October.
Current and former Indian government scientists say there are often errors when manually uploading information to the database and those datelines are likely to be wrong. December 2020 is when delta was initially sequenced in India, they say. Certainly, the first person to decode the mutations wouldn’t have known its full enormity at the time since not all changes in a virus are significant. Only when you begin to see spiraling outbreaks marked by similar characteristics do you realize that a variant of concern is at play, they said. But Amravati offered the clues needed to make that connection as early as January this year.
#India's year 2021 ended with worse #unemployment rate than it began. The year 2021 is closing with an unemployment rate of 8.01% in Dec vs 6.52% in January, according to @_CMIE. It's worsened even before #COVID19 #OmicronVarient appeared. #Modi #BJP https://www.thenorthlines.com/year-ends-with-worse-unemployment-rat...
The year 2021 is closing with an unemployment rate of 8.01 per cent in India as against 6.52 per cent in January. It is a great cause of frustration. In January, unemployment rate in the urban area was 8.09 per cent which was up on December 30 at 9.26 per cent, and for rural areas it was up at 7.44 per cent as against only 5.81 per cent. It all indicates a great labour market distortion despite a trend in the economic recovery in both urban and rural areas.
Unemployment has worsened at a time when a new Omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire both in India and several other countries, enforcing lockdowns and containment measures. There is great uncertainty in the labour market, and nobody knows what will happen next, chiefly because Omicron overrides immunity from vaccination. The year 2022 is thus opening with a gloom scenario, as against 2021 which had begun with a hope after a miraculous development of vaccines and rollout from January 16. It was hoped that market conditions would improve enabling unemployed to get employment.
Unemployment rate in December 2020 was 9.06 per cent. For urban areas it was even higher at 9.15 per cent. At that time the urban unemployment rate was 8.84. All India unemployment rate then began improving with the opening of almost all sectors of economy. By March it fell to 6.50 per cent which is the lowest for this year, with urban unemployment at 7.27 per cent and rural unemployment at 6.15 per cent. However, it was worse than the unemployment rate of 6.1 per cent in the beginning of 2018, which was at 45 years high for the country.
The situation had started worsening sharply from November 2016 after Modi’s demonetisation order which forced cores of business and industrial establishments, especially MSMEs to close. Millions others struggled to survive due to shortage of cash, and millions more cut their production up to 75 per cent. Crores of people lost their jobs and by the beginning of 2018, unemployment in India was 45 year high. Unemployed were thus hit hardest in the Modi rule, which the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic made even worse. Lockdown order of March 24, 2020 put brake on the whole economy to a grinding halt, which began to open from June 1, 2020 in phased manner.
The country was hit by the second wave of COVID-19 in April, which necessitated further lockdowns and containment measures. Labour market suddenly deteriorated and the gains of the last three months were reversed. Unemployment rate rose to 7.97 per cent from 6.50 per cent just a month ago. Both the urban and rural areas were adversely affected and the unemployment rate rose to 9.78 and 7.13 per cent respectively.
May proved to be worst with the rise in the ferocity of the second wave. Markets were shut down and millions of establishments closed. Unemployment rate shot up to 11.84 per cent which is highest for the current year. Unemployment in the urban areas became even worse at 14.72 per cent while in the urban areas it was 10.55 per cent.
#India reports first death linked to #Omicron #coronavirus variant.the western state of #Rajasthan. Omicron cases in the country have now risen to 2,135, #Indian #health official told a small group of reporters in #NewDelhi. #Pandemic #BJP #Modi #Covid_19 https://www.reuters.com/world/india/india-reports-first-death-linke...
India on Wednesday reported its first COVID-19 death linked to the fast-spreading Omicron variant in the western state of Rajasthan, a federal health ministry official said.
Omicron cases in the country have now risen to 2,135, the official told a small group of reporters in New Delhi.
India will likely get old before it gets rich
By Mihir Sharma
By the middle of this century, India will have 1.6 billion people. That’s when the country’s population will finally start to decline, ending up at perhaps a billion by 2100. While that is still around 250 million more people than China will have then, every time India’s population is projected, its peak seems to come earlier and crest lower. While India will be a young country for decades yet, it is ageing faster than expected. The latest round of India’s massive National Family Health Survey (NFHS) underscores the point. The average Indian woman is now likely to have only two children. That’s below the “replacement rate" of 2.1, at which the population would exactly replace itself over generations.
A few decades ago, this would have been considered miraculous in a country dismissed as a Malthusian nightmare. As modern health care became increasingly available after independence in 1947, population growth exploded—rising from 1.26% annually in the 1940s to 2% in the 1960s. Twenty years after independence, the demographer Sripati Chandrashekhar became India’s health minister and warned that “the greatest obstacle in the path of overall economic development is the alarming rate of population growth." The India in which I grew up was plastered with the inverted red triangle of the government’s family planning campaign.
As it turned out, increasing prosperity, decreases in infant mortality and—crucially—female education and empowerment achieved more than government propaganda ever could. In urban India, the fertility rate is now 1.6, according to the NFHS, equivalent to that of the US.
This is good news. But unalloyed good news is rare in India and this is no exception. The unexpected speed of the demographic transition has forced India to confront a new problem.
China-watchers have long debated whether that country will grow old before it gets rich. India now has to answer that same question, with far fewer resources at its disposal.
Draconian though China’s one-child policy was, those born under it received unprecedented attention from their families: Average education levels rose sharply, as did the quality of their nutrition. In India, by contrast, the NFHS shows that not only is child malnutrition high, it is not improving fast enough. In fact, in the five years after 2015-16, acute undernourishment actually worsened for children in most parts of India.
Meanwhile, India’s education system is clearly failing. Indian companies are already reporting a shortage of skilled manpower. That isn’t because schools aren’t turning out enough graduates. The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy reports the unemployment rate for college graduates is 19.3%, almost three times higher than the national average. Universities just aren’t producing the kind of workers that companies feel they can employ. In some large-scale surveys, employers have said that less than half the college graduates entering the workforce have the cutting-edge skills they need or the ability to pick them up in the workplace.
Moreover, too few of these young people are trying to get into the workplace at all. Two-thirds of working-age Chinese are currently either employed or looking for a job, according to the International Labour Organization; at the beginning of the country’s high-growth spurt in the early 2000s, this labour force participation rate hit 80%. (The global average is close to 60%.) In India, by contrast, CMIE estimates that the country’s LPR stands at a mere 43% and that the pandemic has “lowered the LPR structurally" to 40%. One big reason: Just one in five Indian women work, which the World Bank has argued is linked to the social stigma of holding jobs outside the home.
‘It’s a total disaster’: #Omicron lays waste to #India’s huge #weddingseason. Distraught couples face prospect of cutting guest lists from more than 600 people down to just 20 after #coronavirus variant took hold. #COVID19 #pandemic #economy https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/18/its-a-total-disaster-...
India has enjoyed a halcyon period since June. As late as November, the capital of 20 million people was recording a mere 35-45 fresh infections a day. But with Omicron fuelling a sudden surge the government has re-imposed restrictions. India is recording around 258,000 cases daily nationally, with New Delhi recording 18,286 cases on Sunday.
Sahiba Puri, of XO Catering by Design in Delhi, understands the need for the restrictions but has no idea what to do with the cooks who have flown in from different parts of India for a pre-wedding function at the weekend.
“The bride’s family wanted to treat guests to all kinds of regional cuisines so these cooks have come and have bought so many of the ingredients. Where do they go? They are paying rent for where they are staying and other expenses,” says Puri.
With the industry staring at yet another disaster, Mishra and others plan to ask the government to relax the 20-guest rule. The Confederation of All India Traders has also written to the government asking for a relaxation.
However, given the current explosion in cases, any relaxation is unlikely. Wedding card printer Arnav Gupta says: “Everyone is so haunted by the brutal second wave that no politician is going to take any chances.”
Vashisht has decided she cannot uninvite 630 guests. She has no choice but to postpone, but planning a later date is proving impossible too. “Who knows when this wave will end? It’s only just got going. Do I tentatively look at a date in March? April? May? I mean, who knows? This limbo is killing me.”
Has India lost its demographic sweet spot?
N Madhavan| Updated On: Jan 20, 2022
Acclaimed author and investor Ruchir Sharma, while delivering the 40th Palkhivala Memorial Lecture earlier this week, called upon Indian economists to shed their “anchoring bias” and stop talking about 8-9 per cent GDP growth which is difficult to achieve.
He blamed four trends for his view. India, he said, has lost its demographic sweet spot. The country’s working age population growth rate which was more than 2 per cent till 2010 has dropped to 1.5 per cent. He quoted his research to say that 75 per cent of the countries with economic growth of 6 per cent or more had a working age population growth in excess of 2 per cent. Most developed nations slowed down as their working age population dropped. The current population growth rate in India is not conducive for high economic growth, he warned.
Pandemic and indebtedness
The challenges created by declining demography is further accentuated by declining productivity (these two factors are the major drivers of economic growth). He argues that all the recent technological innovations have been more on the consumer experience side and they have not resulted in increasing productivity. The pandemic, he added, has pushed nations deeper into debt.
The amount of debt in the world today is 4X the size of the global economy with 25 countries having a debt/GDP ratio in excess of 300 per cent. India’s level of debt (170 per cent of GDP), while lower compared to other nations, is high when one considers its per capita income. High debt cuts productivity and smothers growth, he said.
The final trend that forced him to come out with this stark prognosis for the Indian economy is de-globalisation. Post world War-II, there was intense globalisation where flow of trade, people and capital exploded. Countries that were growing their economy in excess of 6 per cent registered exports growth of 20 per cent or more. After the global financial crisis, protectionism has increased. This has caused trade in goods and services to plateau. Capital flows have also dropped. Without strong exports, high growth rates are not possible for any country, including India.
He concluded by saying that for India any economic growth in excess of 5 per cent should be a great achievement. If what he says comes true, India’s ambition of becoming a higher middle income country like China (for that it needs to grow its per capita income at 8.8 per cent for the next 10 years) or a developed nation like US (it needs to grow at a rapid pace for many decades) will not happen.
The country will not be able to pull its poor out of poverty and significantly increase its per capita income which is currently a little less than $2,000 (China’s, in comparison, is in excess of $12,000).
But has Ruchir Sharma extrapolated what a slowing population growth did to developed nations to India without considering its uniqueness? That appears to be the case. While it is true that India’s total fertility rate fell to 2.0 per cent -- below the replacement rate of 2.1 per cent -- in the recent National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5), the population (according to a paper prepared by C Rangarajan, former RBI Governor, and JK Satia, Prof Emeritus, Indian Institute of Public Health) will continue to grow and will peak at 165 crore only around 2050.
The paper attributes this to population momentum arising out of a larger number of people entering reproductive age group of 15-49 compared to those leaving it. So reduction in working age population is not going to be sharp and immediate.
No labour shortage
Also, India is not a labour scarce country. The US saw its labour rates rise rather sharply when population growth slowed. It was forced to outsource production to China to remain competitive. While there is a mis-match between availability of labour and nature of the available jobs, India is not short of hands. This problem can be resolved, in the short run, through re-skilling programmes and in the long run through adequate investment in the education sector.
Unlike developed economies, India also has a large headroom for improvement -– be it labour participation (a large proportion of women are still outside the labour force), labour productivity (existing people can be pushed to produce a lot more), infrastructure efficiency and adoption of technology.
At the same time, the government should not ignore what Sharma is saying. It should act now and doing so will help the country to be better prepared to tackle the challenges demographic changes will bring about tomorrow.
Need for skills upgrade
There is an urgent need to map skill requirements of the future and ensure that the education system is tuned to deliver them. Mere large scale investment in education, though needed, will not be enough. Similarly, a conscious strategy needs to be devised on use of technology in a manner that it adds value and improves productivity without causing significant job losses.
The government should also eschew protectionist tendencies that has gripped the world. It should be flexible and strike preferential trade deals that are overall beneficial to India. Exports may not be as critical for India as it is for countries like China or Japan and it is unlikely to become so in the future as its economy will continue to be powered by domestic consumption. Still, exports have their benefits. It contributes to economic growth, funds imports, improves efficiency and helps to keep the current account deficit in check. Strong exports growth is a pre-requisite for a fast paced economic growth.
There is also a need for a single-minded focus on economic growth. The government should avoid all distractions, domestic or foreign, in order to achieve this. China did just that till its economy reached a significant size. It is different story that it is throwing its weight around in geo-politics today.
A growth focussed prudent economic policy will ensure that India’s investment rate which has fallen significantly since 2007-08 will bounce back. Once that happens, high growth rate will return and India will be in a position to take advantage of the demographic dividend before it is too late.
India's economy has some bright spots, a number of very dark stains: Raghuram RajanRajan said that one way to expand budgetary resources is through asset sales, including parts of government enterprises and surplus government land
Read more at: https://www.deccanherald.com/national/indias-economy-has-some-brigh...
The Indian economy has "some bright spots and a number of very dark stains" and the government should target its spending "carefully" so that there are no huge deficits, noted economist and former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan said on Sunday. Known for his frank views, Rajan also said the government needs to do more to prevent a K-shaped recovery of the economy hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Generally, a K-shaped recovery will reflect a situation where technology and large capital firms recover at a far faster rate than small businesses and industries that have been significantly impacted by the pandemic. "My greater worry about the economy is the scarring to the middle class, the small and medium sector, and our children's minds, all of which will come into play after an initial rebound due to pent up demand. One symptom of all this is weak consumption growth, especially for mass consumption goods," Rajan told PTI in an e-mail interview.
Rajan, currently a Professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, noted that as always, the economy has some bright spots and a number of very dark stains. "The bright spots are the health of large firms, the roaring business the IT and IT-enabled sectors are doing, including the emergence of unicorns in a number of areas, and the strength of some parts of the financial sector," he said. On the other hand, "dark stains" are the extent of unemployment and low buying power, especially amongst the lower middle-class, the financial stress small and medium-sized firms are experiencing, "including the very tepid credit growth, and the tragic state of our schooling". Rajan opined that Omicron is a setback, both medically and in terms of economic activity but cautioned the government on the possibility of a K-shaped economic recovery. "We need to do more to prevent a K shaped recovery, as well as a possible lowering of our medium-term growth potential," he said.
Regarding the rising inflationary trends, Rajan said inflation is a concern in every country, and it would be hard for India to be an exception. According to him, announcing a credible target for the country's consolidated debt over the next five years coupled with the setting up of an independent fiscal council to opine on the quality of the budget would be very useful steps. "If these moves are seen as credible, the debt markets may be willing to accept a higher temporary deficit," he said.