Time for a Revival
Countdown has begun for general budget 2019-20. Within the next 24 hours, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman will present her first budget. Indeed, it is a proud moment for her but the task at hand is not easy. Whatever may be said, Indian economy is in a precarious position right now. Among the three sectors of economy, primary and secondary sectors are not performing up to expectations. Only the third sector, the service sector is performing well. But whatever may be the contribution of the service sector to the GDP, a healthy economy can only be built when agriculture and manufacturing sectors also contribute handsomely to GDP.
To say the least, Indian agricultural sector passed through its worst phase for the greater part of the last decade. Lesser contribution to the GDP, presence of middlemen, natural calamity, inadequate irrigation system, all combined together is ruining agriculture in this country. Farmers are not getting enough prices for their yields. Farmers, who feed the entire country, are virtually starving. Many are committing suicide. The situation is so grave that before the general elections, in the interim budget the government had to announce some measures for the relief of the farmers. But that is too little to combat the crisis that Indian agriculture sector is facing. What was announced in the interim budget can only best be described as a stop-gap arrangement. Much more is to be done.
Some concrete measures for the revival of agriculture sector is expected. Enhanced allocation for irrigation, meaningful minimum support price (MPS), availability of market, reducing duties of agricultural equipments are some of the measures which the Union Finance Minister can think about. Moreover, since the Green Revolution, no programme was undertaken to enhance agricultural production. Remember, the strengthening of Indian economy is largely dependent on agriculture. In this sector more than half of Indian workforce is engaged. Thus a thrust is must for agriculture.
The same is applicable to manufacturing sector too. Heavy, medium or small, no industry is in an encouraging state. Many are blaming demonetisation and implementation of GDP for the situation. But this argument doesn’t hold much water as the downward trend of Indian industry started long ago. Few industries, such as automobile may be presently affected by high GST, but it is not true for other industries. Bad management, scarcity of raw materials, labour unrest, all put together has caused such a situation. It is time now to get rid of all the ailments that the industry is suffering from. We will have to redraw the map of industrial development in the country. We have to encourage industries to produce more as per the needs of modern times. If we continue to produce those things which were needed four or five decades ago, our industries will never regain its health. In other words, we will have to modernise our industry as well as our thinking regarding it.
But it is always easier said than done. What is encouraging is the fact that next general election is five years away. So the time is ripe to swallow bitter pill for the sake of Indian economy. So instead of trading the populist path, it is time now to face harsh realities.