A Budget blueprint for difficult times -Manmohan Singh, P Chidambaram and Praveen Chakravarty
Alarming inequality, failing health care and border tensions loom large and the economic situation needs full attention
As the country prepares to enter a new financial year after an ominous and gloomy 2020-21, there are great expectations about green shoots and the shape of the economic recovery. The havoc wreaked by the novel coronavirus pandemic on people’s lives and livelihoods is deep and enormous. The impact of the COVID-19 induced lockdown cannot be understood merely through headline macro-economic numbers of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), stock market indices, industrial activity indices or any such measure. COVID-19 has destroyed lives and incomes; it has also ruptured our social fabric. It has exacerbated the inequality between the haves and the have-nots, which can turn into a permanent scar if not remedied urgently. It is in this context that we must assess the current state of the economy and evaluate further action for the immediate future.
The sudden onslaught and rapid spread of COVID-19 have devastated most nations. Yet, we believe India could have done better. A better planned lockdown by being sensitive to India’s unique conditions of a large migrant and informal workforce could have reduced the deep distress in the labour market. A responsible and generous fiscal aid package would have soothed millions of struggling families, brought food to starving homes and contained widening inequality. The Reserve Bank of India’s actions to supply enough liquidity were laudable, but they were inadequate.
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The Hindu, 30 January, 2021, https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/a-budget-blueprint-for-difficult-times/article33699220.ece?homepage=true
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