The Ailing Economy: Passing Flu or ICU?

Is the economy in the passing flu, or is it strong? Narayan Ramachandran introduces the debate with this question to the key economists – Dr. Indira Rajaraman, Dr. R. Jagannathan, and Vivek Kaul.

 

The session proceeded as each economist took their stand about the question posed by Ramachandran. Indira talked about how she would not call the present economic phase of India, flu. It is merely a global slowdown, as has been ongoing since demonetization. Neither is the economy in the Intensive Care Unit, as Narayan had suggested, as the economy is not terminally ill. She referred to the World Bank report, that ranked India in terms of its growth and advocated the present economic state to one major failure- the failure to enforce contracts. Indira calls the deferral of payments an “Indian disease”.

 

Jagannathan took a more critical look at the land reforms and its implementation. There have not been enough reforms since 1991, and there were very few reforms at the macroeconomic level. He posited on the effects of technology- how these effects can be utilized to polarize the workforce. “We have to address this structural thing of business,” said Jagannathan.

 

The mic was passed on to Vivek Kaul, who asked the audience to raise their hands if they had taken an uber or an ola to the occasion today. He, thus, proceeded to prove his point about car sales. He stated how there has been a 30% drop in car sales. He proceeded to blame the Modi government, and how they have failed to acknowledge the problem. In a very engaging explanation, Vivek told the audience how salaried incomes have no growth, and the real incomes have fallen. Vivek calls the current economic problem to be structural, as well as cyclical. The economy will soon end up in the ICU.

 

“The patient is seriously ill”, Narayan commented by synthesizing the economists’ arguments. The question raised, however, is how should we tackle the structural issues in this cyclical slowdown?

Indira stated her views first, by saying that the problem is mainly a ‘legacy issue’. The government should not be defensive. The argument about fiscal deficits was raised by her, as companies going into default will have a negative impact. “The fisc is deeply troubled”, she said as she ended her argument.

 

Jagannathan made a funny statement about how most of the problems are due to economists themselves. They, themselves, are very contradictory in their approach towards the economic problem. He told the audience not to worry about the fiscal problem. His approach was more central to the non-economic reforms, like agricultural and police contract reforms.

 

Vivek Kaul took up a different approach to the argument. He did not agree with the fiscal deficit argument, he thought that the government should cut down it’s spending. The problem was where the government is spending, not why.
So, what do we do now? In the current ‘economic flu’, how do we deal with its problems?

 

The economists ponder over the thought, as Vivek Kaul took the mic. He said that the consumption has to go up, as no cooperate will invest unless the capital utilization picks up. Indira, as well as Jagannathan, considered the solution to be government expenditure towards the poor. Indira commented on how the construction sector has been vastly affected by the GST, and our next step is to plead to the government to bring the levy down. She said, “The government can be a part of the solution, only when it recognizes the problem”- a statement that received applause from the audience.

Thus, Narayan concluded the debate, stating that even if he was holding back his own opinion on fiscal deficits, the emphasis on the fiscal deficits should go. The government should make payments where it is due.

 

 

 

About the Author: Passionate about saving the environment, and driven by politics and philosophy, Anusha Basu writes about the musings she perceives everyday. She is currently pursuing her English Hons degree at Christ University, Bangalore. She currently writes for TheSeer.

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Savarkar: Misunderstood Messiah?

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar commonly known as Veer Savarkar has attracted renewed academic interest in the country thanks to the highly successful biography by Author and Historian Vikram Sampath. While Savarkar has always been a device for shrill disputes in our country’s polity, this rare academic revival brought him and his biographer to the festival. Vikram Sampath, who is one of the founders of the festival was deftly interviewed by veteran Journalist and SwarajyaMag’s Editorial Director Mr. R Jagannathan. 

 

Mr. Sampath while replying to Mr. Jagannathan said, “The proponents as well as opponents of Savarkar know very little about him. He is discussed during every election for political gains and to some extent both the so called Left and the so called Right have misunderstood him. There are many positions that Savarkar takes which will make the current Indian Right uncomfortable. For example, his position on caste system, divinity of cows are things that today’s Right might not like. Also, a bulk of misunderstanding comes from the history books written by the Left historians.” Mr. Jagannathan went on to ask about the ensuing debate after the demands of Bharat Ratna upon Savarkar. “Ofcourse, this was done with an eye on the elections. In fact, Uddhav Thackerey set the cat among the pigeons in his book launch. Thereafter, the BJP picked it up. Now, both parties have together won the elections, so it remains to be seen what happens of the demands. Also, it is true that these awards of national importance have been the preserve of one particular ideology and family. Our freedom struggle has been narrated in a monochromatic way which is not true. So, maybe it will be some kind of recognition for him. Although, even if it is not bestowed, it won’t make any difference to him or his family.”, Mr. Sampath answered. 

 

Mr. Jagannathan asked several other questions pertaining to Savarkar’s shift in his outlook from when he wrote about Hindus and Muslims fighting together in the first war of Indian independence in 1857 to his idea of Hindutva and also his time in the Cellular Jail at Andaman. Mr. Sampath went into detail and explained how Savarkar was actually the one to start the first secret society in India called Mitra Mela which was later called Abhinav Bharat to create disaffection in the armed forces. For his book on the 1857 revolt, Savarkar spent five years in London, researching in libraries. He understood the Indian perspective of the mutiny and reinterpreted it as the First War of Indian Independence. The book was so popular and effective amongst the revolutionaries that Bhagat Singh got the second edition published. Similarly, Rash Behari Bose and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose too got the book republished.

 

Savarkar was somebody who spoke of different communities being rainbow on Indian sky and in Mr. Sampath’s opinion, two particular events – first, his experience at the cellular jail where the British played the game of divide and rule and got the Muslim jamadars to convert the Hindus and second, Gandhi’s role in the Khilafat movement to mobilize an entire community to fight for a movement thousands of miles away that resulted in riots across the country, affected his positions and ideas. During the Moplah riots, Gandhi praised the rioters as great warriors fighting for their community and addressed Abdul Rashid, the killer of Swami Shraddhanand as his brother. Savarkar thought that Gandhi needed an intellectual counter and a small book called ‘Essentials of Hindutva’ that he wrote from Ratnagiri jail should be read. Mr. Sampath also stressed that the allegations of him being a coward because he wrote mercy petitions were unfair to him. Petition was a legitimate legal recourse available to the prisoners then and even Gandhi himself on requested for help by Savarkar’s brother, asked him to write a petition and wrote one himself. Also, the petitions were for the prisoners and Savarkar was ready to stay in the jail if others were released at his expense.

 

The discussion was brought to a close with Mr. Sampath explaining many points where Savarkar’s views would differ from the current Right of our country. There on a subject like caste system, his ideas were more like those of Ambedkar and not Gandhi. Savarkar believed that the cow must be treated as a utility animal and not a divine being and his idea of Hindutva was more cultural and nationalistic where allegiance to the country was the only identity marker. With a couple of questions from the audience members, Mr. Sampath explained the inclusive nature of Savarkar’s Hindutva and his idea of ‘equality for all, appeasement of none’.