For India Inc's sob story, Sitharaman has a sop story. But will it help? -Aunindyo Chakravarty

Instead of giving freebies to the affluent, Sitharaman should have announced additional government spending in MNREGA and plans for filling vacancies in government jobs.

After holding out for seven weeks, following her maiden budget, Nirmala Sitharaman finally blinked. For about a month now, pink papers and business-friendly pundits had been crying foul about India Inc’s shrinking sales.

But, since you can’t sell a sob story about the rich, it was spun to make it about the poor.

Newspaper headlines spoke of the crisis in chai-biskoot sales. About how the poor aren’t even able to buy a Rs 5-packet of biscuits. About the oversupply of tea in the market, and the crash in tea prices. About how rural India has stopped buying toothpaste and undies.

Dire warnings were given about massive job-cuts in the offing. Parle, makers of India’s largest selling biscuit Parle-G, said they would have to lay-off 10,000 people, unless the government lowered GST rates. Auto-makers, and their suppliers, warned of 10 lakh job losses unless the government acted immediately.

Various manufacturers associations put out newspaper advertisements asking for help. One, by an association of textile mill owners talked of massive job losses, while another, placed by the Indian Tea Association reminded the government that the livelihoods of over a million workers were at stake.

To make readers feel that this was all about the poor, the textile mill advertisement used a sketch of a farmer with an ox-pulled-plough, while the tea association notice had the familiar picture of a tea garden worker. Never mind, that tea gardens are notorious for their inhumane working conditions.

But, it wasn’t as if India Inc was just complaining. The commentariat also, helpfully, provided the solutions. The bulk of them was about how to fix the crisis in India’s auto industry, the worst hit by the slowdown.

Please click here to read more., 27 August, 2019,

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