The address by the President Ram Nath Kovind to the joint sitting of the Parliament on the opening day June 20 lacks the vision and the mindset of a new government which has been returned to power with a massive mandate. Apart from repeating the slogans and the programmes for building a New India by 2022, the address totally ignored to mention the seriousness of the job crisis haunting the economy and what are the plans for giving a new life to the crores of unemployed who are worried more about their own future than in slogans for a New India.
The economy is currently under severe strain and both the organized sector and the MSMEs are feeling the pangs of slow down. The unemployment rate is the highest in the country in the recent years and all studies made recently have talked about job losses in the last financial year rather than job growth. The NBFC sector whose viability is of great importance for the functioning of the economy is in a mess. Though the first budget of the second Modi government is due on July 5, two weeks away, the address should have at least mentioned about the turmoil in the financial sector and how the Government is thinking of meeting the challenge. But this has not been done.
Right now, the NBFC crisis has the potential to disrupt the economy as during the next three months, 1.1 lakh crore of local currency bonds are due for payment and most of the NBFCs are presently in a sticky situation due to lack of fund inflows. Experts say that already the economy is showing lower growth and now if the NBFC crisis persists, the growth impetus will get fresh jolt. If the NBFC crisis accentuates, the small and medium companies will get setback.
The address has made a special mention to cover 30 crore people by expanding the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojna. This should be a welcome effort. The announcement about the government considering allowing the entrepreneurs to get loans without guarantee up to the level of Rs. 50 lakh, will be helpful. But this Mudra project did not produce the desired results in the first term. The Modi government has to assess in depth the operations of the scheme and plug the loopholes to make the scheme foolproof. If properly implemented, this scheme has the potential to create jobs, though some studies made last year showed that the employment generation was less than expected and many of the Mudra units shut down after some time.
Another important statement is about establishing 50, 000 start ups by 2024. The startups give employment to lot of young people but the experience till now is not at all satisfactory. Many of the startups have been closed down and the Government agencies did not provide the ready assistance that was needed. This start up policy has to be reviewed so that really, the units stay and maintain their operations after setting up. India has a big potentiality in having largest number of hi tech start ups. This area needs close monitoring and it is hoped that the Government really work on it and just not use the start up movement as a campaign.
The address has mentioned that India is on the way to become the world’s fifth largest economy in terms of GDP and the Government through reform process, will make it a US$ 5 trillion economy by 2024.This is a noble mission but just GDP growth is not enough to improve the economic well being of the poor, it is the manner of growth and its relationship with distribution that is important in ensuring equity in the society. For the unorganized and the rural youth, there is no assurance in the address that they will have a better future. A new industrial policy is going to be announced and that must ensure that the industrial units will have the responsibility to generate jobs in an adequate manner. We have seen the high jobless growth in both UPA era and more in the first Modi regime. This cannot continue. If Prime Minister really means sabka saath sabka vikas, he has to change the growth and industrial strategy to generate large jobs as a matter of policy and see that the labour intensive industries are given all the facilities for growth. Sabka vikas is never possible if the rural poor and youth are sidelined by the growth process.
The address has focused on the water crisis and that is very apt. This is emerging as the biggest challenge to the Indian economy and the society in the coming decades. So that way the focus on water conservation and management is very timely and this has to be pursued with all earnestness. Water is the lifeline and if India fails to tackle this emerging water shortage in the country, the growth will not take place and the living will be miserable. Prime Minister should take up this Water Conservation and Water Policy as his prime task in the new regime.
The ruling party BJP might have won the Lok Sabha elections with a thumping majority and the Prime Minister Modi might have got the most popular mandate in the recent years, but the tasks are stupendous. The slogans chanting will not lead to real transformation. If the Modi Government real wants to build an inclusive economy, the 2019-20 budget has to give the direction to programmes which will help the underprivileged in improving their living and ensure removal of inequality to a good extent. The areas which have not been touched in President address should get reflected in the budget proposals.