The pandemic no doubt was sudden and brutal but the way it was managed was simply catastrophic. When we compare COVID related deaths and death rates of India versus the second largest democracy, the USA and other neighbors we find that the leaders of India have failing miserably in saving Indian lives. According to the latest statistics from New York Times, India’s COVID related deaths have been significantly higher when compared to other countries and in the nearby region. At the peak, the number of weekly average death was 4454 on May 23, 2021. On June 12, this was 3303. The tragic part is it increased after June 9 when this average was 2177.
For the USA, this average has been 370 on June 12. Since the population of India is roughly 4 times of the USA, the death rate in India should have been 4×370 or around 1600. This means the death rate in India has been twice of that of the USA despite aid coming from all over the world to save Indian lives.
The weekly average death rate in Bangladesh has been just 30 on June 121. India’s population is about 8.7 times larger than Bangladesh which implies that India’s weekly average death rate should have been just 330. At the peak death rate in Bangladesh on April 23, the average figure was just 981 which implies that the peak weekly average death rate in India should have been 850. For Pakistan, the peak weekly death rate was 140 on April 28 and on June 12 it was 61 Since population of India is 6 times that of Pakistan it implies that the even per Pakistan’s standard, the peak weekly deaths in India should have been 850 (140×6) and on June 12 it should have been 360 (61×6)1. It is really shameful, that with population adjustment made, India has been performing 10 times worse than its immediate neighbors Bangladesh and Pakistan in handling Covid death rates and at the peak (worst time of both the countries compared) also India was 5 times worse than them.
The GDP Debacle
On GDP also India’s performance has been dismal. As per the latest data, the growth rate of India has been -7.3% for the fiscal year 2021 (4/20 to 3/21). US and China are much bigger economies than India and they also had COVID almost on the same scale as India. However, their economies grew at the rate of 2.6% and 8.4% respectively. It is clearly the dismal failure of Modi government because of its regressive and myopic economic policies.
Another issue of major concern is the alarming Balance of Trade Deficit with China as a Cause of sluggish GDP growth of India. It is being touted that “Trade between China and India soared 70.1% in US dollar terms in the first five months of this year to $48.16 billion, according to Chinese customs data released on Monday. Specifically, Chinese exports to India grew 64.1% year-on-year from January to May, while imports surged 90.2%,” the tabloid Global Times reported2. The trade deficit during the same first five moths of 2021 has been$45 billion, which is 1.5% of India’s GDP. Since GDP = Consumption + Investment + Government Expenditure + Balance of Trade, India’s GDP is down by 1.5% in just five months of trade with China. This implies that for the whole year at this rate of trade deficit with China, India’s 3.6% of GDP would taken away by China.
It is very surprising that Modi Government seems oblivious to this drain on India’s economy. President Trump imposed heavy import duties on China in the year 2018 and that has been continued under Biden administration, but the Indian Government is not even realizing this problem. What kind of Finance and Commerce Ministers this government has that they are not even understanding that with this kind of trade deficit, India’s GDP can’t grow? Only under this government with India-China trade volume of $87.6 billion in 2020, China overtook the US to become India’s largest trading partner despite a bloody conflict along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and the rising anti-China sentiment. All Asian tigers and both China and Japan achieved miracles because of trade surpluses, but Modi government does not even realize that India’s wealth is being drained by China! Even one of the richest and the most powerful country, the USA could not survive the economic drain on US GDP caused by trade deficit with China. This problem must be discussed in Parliament. This is absolutely urgent.
Failure to tackle Inflation and reduce unemployment:
India’s inflation for the year 2020 was 6.2% which is far above the stated goal of 4%. The Government’s failure on Unemployment reduction too is stark and glaring. Over 10 million (1 crore) Indians have lost their jobs because of the second wave of Covid-19, and around 97 per cent of households’ incomes have declined since the beginning of the pandemic last year, Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) chief executive Mahesh Vyas said on Monday4. The total figure of unemployed labour has been 3.5 crores or 350 million.
Besides, the abysmally short-sighted policies of the government have accentuated the problem of Stagflation. India has experienced the worst of both the worlds during the current regime. Since the relationship between inflation and unemployment has historically been inverse in many parts of the world including India under Dr Man Mohan Singh’s government (also known as Phillips Curve), India under Modi government has seen higher inflation and higher unemployment as discussed above. This means stagflation is the special feature of this government because of its wrong economic policies.
The inequality monster: India’s inequality had increased. Only two business houses of Gautam Adani and Mukesh Ambani have been accumulating wealth by exploiting the rest of India. As already discussed, that 97% of Indians have become poorer while the wealth of MukeshAmbani has tripled since the formation of this government in 2014 and Gautam Adani’s wealth has increased by about 30 times. As per Forbes records, Gautam Adani’s wealth was just $3.5 billion in March 2016 which jumped to $75 Billion on June 13, 2021. This kind of immense richness over just 5 years is not possible without government (Prime Minister in particular) favoring him.
The callous, insensitive and prejudiced Government under Modi has made a mockery of Governance and exposed the Indian nation and its people to the hydra of inflation, unemployment, crippling economy, a debilitating trade deficit and failing and a sinking health care system.
The present Government still has 3 more years to go before it faces the people in a general election. It is time for some serious course correction by the Modi Government, for the sake of its own survival and but more importantly for the people of India. Let us hope that the Modi Government shakes off the ignorance and arrogance, strategizes by putting the people of India first and performs with heart, mind and muscle in the second half of their thus far catastrophic tenure.
Number in Subscript is the source number listed below:
(RajendarDichpally is the National General Secretary – Indian Overseas Congress, USA)