By:  Ajay Shukla

According to the Ministry of Statistics GDP was 135 lakh crores in the FYI 2020-21, which was 145 lakh crores last year. Presently the GDP is -7.3%, which is the first instance of such a tattered condition post 1947. It is evident that our economy has derailed. Our fiscal deficit has peaked to 9.3%. This is the situation when more than 2 dozens of the PSUs and Corporations have been privatized. We claim to be a young Nation but the National unemployment rate has touched 12%. Stalling of the Industrial sector because of Covid-19 has resulted in more than 2 crores people losing their jobs while last year more than 10 crores lost their jobs. The infrastructure crumbled before it could recover. People distressed by these trying circumstances are forced to commit suicides, most of whom are professionals and there has been a hike of 4% in suicide rate in the last few years. Amending the Agrarian Laws has impacted negatively. On an average about 80 farmers are committing suicides every month. Crime graph is also rising steeply.

Industrial growth was in the right direction before the epidemic but now its negative, which has played a pivotal role in increasing unemployment. Lakhs of posts are lying vacant in the Government services which are not being filled up. While the private sector has distanced itself from its employee’s welfare Retrenchment is in vogue these days in all commercial sectors. Inflation has crossed all the figures till date. Central Government figures suggest that inflation is rising @ 10.49%. Petroleum products are at an all time high compared to the minimal rise in crude oil prices. In absence of any policy or robust measures to control the inflation the situation is turning bad to worse. Steep rise in the prices of food products is being witnessed. If Government’s statics are to be believed then about 3.5 lakhs people have died of Covid whereas the non-official count breaches beyond 40 lakh mark. Too much has been sacrificed by those infected with Covid as well as by those who have died of it as some had to sell away his house and some their jewellery while some availed loans while others pawned away theirselves. The Government statistics of the last few years indicate that there has been a huge rise in the scale of immigrations effected by Indian Citizens, under duress of worsening situations and insecurity plaguing their future. In the present time one can neither scout for a suitable job nor for their square meals which imperatively rises up crime. Economy is dipping down and the debt ridden industrialists are fleeing away while some are filing up for bankruptcy. Private hospitals have turned flaying abattoirs while the Government hospitals are gasping for basic amenities and medicines. It’s a sordid sight to see patients dying on the gates of hospitals for want of oxygen, beds and medicine. Hospitals and cremation grounds are lined up in serpentine queues where admissions and cremations are done either on an endorsement or an exaction. Foragers in this hour of crisis devised ways to fleece the grieving. Foraging swayed the Government too which devised ways of profiteering through the vaccination drive and distanced itself from Constitutional obligation of being a welfare State and the elected representatives and the ruling dispensation shrouded themselves in the cloak of lame excuses. Those who came forward to provide relief were entangled in the bureaucratic web and many were prosecuted for portraying the truth.

These times the Nation required to be shepherded by a leader but he was busy campaigning elections. Epidemic was skipped away for religious appeasement to permit the huge gatherings of all festivals like Mahakumbh and panchayat elections seeded Covid in villages which lacked the basic amenities of health and hygiene and the dying accepted this to be their fate. Many families were lost and many lost all their male members. Government and its dispensation did not even wink despite Courts and the media holding them responsible. While ignoring the demands of the Opposition parties to defer the elections in Bihar and Bengal and other States, Election Commission appeared to be towing the Government’s line. The Courts intervened only when the judges apprehended fear to their own lives. The dissent and criticism to its policies was crushed by the State with an iron claw. Central Government amended the pension policy to stem the rights of freedom of expression of Ex-servicemen vide a notification. Self sacrificing patriots were punished for the first time in such a manner. Many journalists and leaders were charged with sedition. Tailor made Regulations muffled the voices media of main stream and social media.

When Nation gained freedom Nehru not only cradled it as a leader but also chiseled it towards development. He, in those days, not only purged the Nation from three epidemic diseases but also rehabilited the sufferers and this occurred when the country was plagued by both internal and external attacks. Many wars were heaped on us. After Nehru, Shastri advanced his ideology albeit only for a year and a half. Indira Gandhi established country as a strong nation in midst of political turmoil and attacks by foreign powers. She perpetually secured India by bifurcating Pakistan in two, the result of which is that no country could not muster courage to attack India since then. Rajiv Gandhi as a young Prime Minister embraced IT revolution and Science and Technology to provide more jobs to the youth and Atal Bihari Vajpayee strengthened the country by adopting the global financial theme and freed the land block grabbed by Pakistan and after him Dr. Manmohan through his fiscal reforms speeded up the pace of growth and emboldened the India’s economy.

Narender Modi reflected the image of such a leader when he took over the reins of power of the country. Public support poured for him when he worked for reforms in GST and administrative reforms and implemented demonetization and the support did not wane prior to Covid. Despite this support situation both on the borders and within worsened instead of improving. Country expects him to lead in terms of “sarvjan hitehya, sarvjan sukhaya”. We might lose our bearings, which remains, in case policies are not devised according to the advice of the global economists and experts. Government should treat its criticism in a receptive manner and respond to dissent positively not by stifling the voice of dissent. Nations are built by leadership and leadership should reflect a democratic Statesman and nothing else.

(Writer is the Chief Editor of ITV Network)

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