India’s economy is rebounding well from the Covid lockdown period on almost all parameters, particularly as compared to some other powerful economies. Although it would be premature to assume that the Covid threat is behind us – and there is no greater need than now to be careful – the measures taken to keep the economy on the rails seem to be paying off. Keeping an eye on the larger picture instead of just responding to immediate crises is an important factor of good leadership. The repercussions of Britain’s decision to quit the European Union are being seen now, as the shortage of nearly a hundred thousand drivers that were mostly migrants from the continent has created a major fuel crisis there. They don’t even have the necessary number of butchers to slaughter animals for their dinner tables! China’s belligerence towards its major trading partners merely to assert its dominance on the global stage has adversely impacted its economy. Power outages and financial crises have been the result, even as largely peaceful neighbours are setting up anti-China military alliances.
The challenge is for India to take advantage of this advantageous position by coming together in creating a positive environment. Being federally structured, each state’s understanding of the situation differs, as do the priorities. The required support for policies is lacking across the board, mostly for political reasons. This is why many of the central schemes on health and poverty alleviation have been resisted at the cost of the people’s well-being. Some states have been smarter, such as Odisha, to take the benefit and, through the sincerity of the implementation won public support. By contrast, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu have, for purely ideological reasons, refused to come on board numerous initiatives. Hopefully, after her thumping bypoll victory, Mamata Banerjee will shed some of her paranoia and climb on to the development bandwagon.
People wonder why, unlike many governments before it, the present Modi regime is refusing to concede the farmers’ demands on the new farm laws. It is because of the long-term implications. The time for agricultural reforms is now – this is only the beginning. The issue should not be politicised. India’s overall development should be the highest priority. The comparatively better performance in the face of one of the gravest crises should encourage people and politicians to put the nation above all else and place their shoulders to the wheel in a collective effort to speed up the process.