Contrasting pictures seem to be the ideal DP to showcase the real India. Two such scenarios were widely reported recently. The first one presented two prominent developments – India surpassed the United Kingdom to become the fifth largest economy in the world, and it could become the third largest economy by the end of this decade; Gautam Adani became the world’s third richest man and the first Asian to make it to this rank.
Cut to the second scenario which is diametrically opposite – more than 42,000 daily wage-earners died by suicide in 2021, according to the report by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). If one adds the number of others, including farmers, who died by suicide, during the same period, it points to an alarming situation gnawing the very vitals of the society. The first scenario might warm the cockles of many hearts, but the second one exposes a distressing development in the society.
The government might reel out numbers to show that the economy is picking up; it would pat its back flaunting figures of growth in various fields. But, behind such data and statistics lie a disturbing truth.
For example, according to reports, as many as 40 million migrant jobs were impacted/lost in India during the pandemic period. This came as a double whammy as the country was yet to come out of the ‘demonetization’ shock when the virus attack took place. The demonetization had come as a bolt from the blue especially to the small and medium industries, and people had lost jobs in droves.
A recent report that close to 20 per cent of micro, small and medium industries have failed to payback their loans, making them bad debts, shows the enormity of the crisis in the industrial sector. Hence demonetization together with pandemic broke the back of the economy and workers were the most affected by it. The NCRB report validates it though the government might try to portray a rosy picture.
The growth in various sectors of the economy is not enough to generate adequate employment opportunities. It is not putting enough money in the hands of majority of people so that their purchasing power gets a boost. The demand-supply chain will get a boost when the purchasing power of people increases, and this can happen only when there is growth in employment.
Unfortunately, unemployment has not got the amount of attention as it should have. The unperturbed government, in ostrich-like behaviour, is in denial mode; it prefers to maintain a stony silence on the raging unemployment; instead, it tries to divert attention to non-issues.
Any talk on $ 5 trillion economy can wait, but the life of the citizens of this country cannot wait. Those who dream of taking the country to the super power status too can hold their horses. It does not make much sense to boast about such visions when thousands of its citizens are taking their lives unable to make ends meet. The government seems to have lost its priorities. It is apparently trying to deflate real issues, unable to tackle them. The real wealth of a nation is its people. If their life is in peril, big talks and bigger dreams make no meaning.