India’s economic superpower status means nothing to the toiling masses
The Modi government’s policies have ensured that the coffers of the rich continue to overflow even as the poor sink further into poverty, with no recourse to jobs and dignity
India may become the third biggest economic power in the world by 2030. It recently became the fifth biggest by replacing the United Kingdom from that slot and is on track to push Germany and Japan behind to attain the third rank, after the United States and China.
However, its economic growth model is helping the rich get richer while supressing others who are even denied jobs, resulting in the rate of unemployment to climb to 8.3 per cent.
Thus, India is actually heading towards earning the dubious distinction of being the third biggest economy by 2030 with the widest economic gap between the rich and the poor.
India’s economy is presently estimated at about $3.2 trillion, far behind the target of $5 trillion economy by 2024-25 set by PM Narendra Modi in 2019, at a time when the unemployment rate was at a 45 year high.
According to the IMF, in 2019, India had already became the world's fifth-largest economy with a nominal GDP of $2.94 trillion, overtaking France ($2.71 trillion) and the UK ($2.83 trillion). If we take this into account, India’s growth after three years to only about $3.2 trillion amounts to very slow economic progress, and at this rate, Modi government is not going to achieve the target of making India a $5 trillion economy within next two years.
Even if India becomes the third biggest economy by 2030, it will have little meaning for the common people.
Where is the wealth actually being created and accumulated, and at whose cost? This is a most pertinent question that should be answered first to get a clear idea about the Modi government’s policy implications on favourite persons, the general rich, and the common people.
The national account may show all the wealth that may even increase the per capita income, but in reality, will conceal the declining income of the common people.
“India is quietly laying claim to economic superpower status,” read the title of an article published in The Guardian, with the subtitle, “India recently overtook UK as the world’s fifth biggest economy – and it could be third by 2030. The nation of 1.4 billion people is on track to move into third place behind the US and China by 2030, according to economists.”
This article gave an idea about where the wealth of the nation is being created and accumulated. “The staggering wealth accumulated in recent years by Indian billionaires Gautam Adani and Mukesh Ambani has been less well publicized,” the article read. Adani, in particular has come to represent India’s growing economic strength, becoming Asia’s richest person in February, and now ranked third in the world with a fortune of $143 billion.
Both Ambani and Adani are from Gujarat, as is PM Modi. These widespread industrial interests represent the India’s economic growth story. Both are said to be close to Modi, and Modi’s market reforms, including cutting corporate tax from 35 per cent to 25 per cent, helped them considerably.
“Adani is close to Modi who has been known to use the tycoon’s private jet for campaign trips,” the article published in The Guardian read.
It is, therefore, clear that the kind of economic growth India is pursuing has little to do with common people because it is jobless growth. It means that the economic growth is being pursued at the cost of the common people who are going jobless, and poverty and destitution is spreading fast due to the lack of social security coverage and restricted access to essential financial and health facilities to the public in general.
That is why the figures of growth recently released by the Modi government is received well by the people who are concerned only with wealth creation and accumulation, while being criticized by those who emphasize that such a growth has no meaning without human development and the well-being of the common people.
As per the government propaganda, India’s economy showed signs of stabilising last month with strong demand for services helping weather headwinds form high inflation. The economic indicators showed that sentiment in the services sector – which accounts for over 50 per cent of the $3.2 trillion economy – was upbeat in August, tax revenue was robust and demand for loans high.
However, everyone agrees that the rising rate of joblessness was the main drag on the economic as well as human development in the country.
CMIE data shows the joblessness rate climbing to 8.3 per cent, which was highest in a year. It means the current pace and mode of economic development and expansion is not enough to create new jobs for about one million new workforce joining the labour market every month.
A recent ILO report has given another data about rising ‘working poverty’ in India, which has reached 73 per cent in the country. These are poor quality jobs that are keeping the working population in extreme poverty, moderate poverty, or near poverty conditions.
Meanwhile, the Modi government is further pursuing a policy to promote informal, gig, or platform jobs that have no social security coverage.
The Modi government must change its policies to ensure a life of dignity for common people, rather than the present policies of wealth creation and accumulation in the hands of a few. The wider the gap between the rich and the poor, the greater will be the miseries of the people. Selling the dream of becoming an economic superpower to the common people is downright deceitful behaviour on its part.
Views are personal