Wednesday, July 28, 2021
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Fragile to agile economy

By SK Nag

Discontent brewing in the country due to disruption of lives and livelihoods both. Turbulent vaccine logistics added further fuel to it. The War of words between Central and State leadership has been frustrating the citizens. The gradual unfolding of the political predicament of ideological rivalry and non-cooperation in everything makes the citizens suffer intolerable economic injury. Managing success is much easier than working with a failure. Authentic leadership must learn to overcome a failure and recognize the threat of possible political damage in advance. The perception of citizens becoming intolerant due to incapability of incumbent administration and losing the charismatic coat they have inherited from their age-old political brand image. Placebo leadership is going to make no headway in the coming days. Fake Political and hollow narratives are fast finding it in garbage memory without any impetus and piety.

In Indian politics, true love does not take time to become fake love. Social media is a significant change agent that can quickly turn the narrative with cognitive bias driven conviction. Every digital post can potentially affect the sentiment of the country at the drop of a hat. Now it is the government’s role to sing the song of people’s wants. Instead of manifesto-driven development, inconvenience manifested by the citizens must be prioritized to restore normalcy and bring comfort. People of India already started hating the politics of caste and religion. In the future, it will demand a paradigm shift in political dispensation. Before we get into the next election of 2024, political parties must focus on ‘Freedom of Development.’ A 360-degree turnaround plan of economic prosperity will see our India in a state of no looking back. Our population and innate talent will take us to a new height if channelized in the right direction.
Political sentiment already changed its direction. Recent Bihar and Bengal elections have shown us how the people’s mandate on the ground is changing. Though BJP managed to occupy the ruling seat in Bihar, there is still no denying that RJD emerged as the single largest party. Like Bihar, Bengal showed that Jai Sriram is not a magic chant that can airdrop the required victory. It has failed to collate people’s verdict in the socialist State of WB ruled by CPI(M) for forty years. More than policy reform on the pretext of vote bank politics, parties must leverage economic agility to manage a decent number in the future to form a government. Conventional thinking did not take us too far since independence. It has achieved many heights in the past through short-term low-hanging targets, and now it is time to look at the big picture for sustainable growth and prosperity.
Indian economy is most suited for the modern economic approach. Bringing agility to the economy, it can reach a new height beyond imagination. Our agriculture-based economy has continuously strengthened the economy with sufficient flexibility and elbow room, insulating it further from global and local economic shock. We are stressed historically due to many externalities beyond our control (the black swan effect). Despite such abnormalities, the Indian economy emerged as a winner due to our social structure of conservative consumption. This inherent and hereditary mindset of ‘deferred consumption’ protected our growth structure with a safety cushion to hold us in a cocoon if we fall sharply. Our economic activities can be paused and resumed with great flexibility by looking internally and externally. Our domestic consumption can sustain a bigger global shock and can provide required national economic stability.
The global business community has historically shown interest in taking a plunge in the Indian consumer market because of its vastness. So without waiting further to leverage this global inclination, the Govt must encourage foreign investment with a broad and open mind. India has opened up our economy to multinationals too much, and going beyond may endanger the domestic companies; it may be argued, but this is the need of the hour now. Moreover, inviting more and more foreign players in our domestic market will bring in a lot of velocity in our ABCDE economy (Agriculture, Bollywood, Cricket, Discount & EMI).

The current socio-economic situation in India is not conducive to managing election results in favor of the incumbent government; therefore, the coming two years will be a difficult time for them. It is imperative to the government to set right the disruption by pandemics and associated mismanagement. Putting things in order is incredibly difficult and a must for any incumbent who wishes to make a comeback in 2024. So aspirations of success must follow a rigorous road map to orchestrate people’s support. No magical political speech may carry conviction anymore.
Nothing is impossible in Indian politics where it might invoke the strong sentiment of leadership change going beyond religious polarisation. The agile economy will be a possible way out option for the incumbent. Agility refers to flexibility in simple terms, but it takes care of the fragility by making it adjustable. The Indian economy has shown a propensity towards an agile economy already. If political leaders can decipher the cues by driving this towards a flexible path of economic growth, it might bring them a comfortable victory. However, the flexible economy needs a lot of unprecedented lateral economic initiatives. The ‘edge of chaos’ justifies the sufficiency of the nudge it has already received from pandemic disruption; it still needs a direction to settle into a new favorable height. Indian economy of the next couple of decades must go through a significant reform under excellent and experienced hand-holding to avoid further discontent and hiccups.
Business is suffering a substantial economic injury that can be repaired with more innovative support from Govt. Shop establishments act needs modification supporting the new normal mode of business. Hours of operation, mandatory weekly closure, unfriendly GST compliance procedure, local governance support & freebies like electricity subsidy, rent holiday and many other things needing faster government decisions.
Business-friendly lending mechanisms, Commercial revenue-based rent mechanisms for retail traders should be topping the list. MSME & SME supporting the bottom of the pyramid should get a fresh working capital funding aid to have enough oxygen in post covid days.  
The government must eliminate such business detrimental traditional laws to bring in a conducive ecosystem of growth and prosperity. Repealing those unnecessary restrictions from classic rule books will help augment the business turnaround.
Otherwise, it will not be easy to make it to the next phase with Jai Sriram alone.

(Author is Industrial Engineer, Fellow Valuer, Chartered Engineer, BEE approved Energy Expert and Industry Mentor. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author. He can be reached at saibal.iim@gmail.com)

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