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The combination of the preceding economic downturn and its accompanying Covid-19 impact has caused a severe blow to the economy. But our Prime Minister sees green shoots in the economy. The central BJP government uses Covid-19 as a pretext, destroying the economy of the masses by implementing the most destructive policies. The agrarian market has been completely opened up to private corporations, so the power to decide what to cultivate in the land and whom to sell to is entirely up to the big corporates, as this tends to promote only cash crops cultivation, the country's food sufficiency and food security are at stake.

Nirmala SitharamanThe Essential Commodities Act, 1955, was amended to remove cereals, pulses, oilseeds, onions, and potatoes from the list of essential commodities. The complete deregulation of the state's control over these commodities has shocked farmers. This enables speculators to hoard these goods, causing artificial scarcity to raise their prices. By doing so, speculators and intermediaries can plunder profits with the full support of the state. In Nilgiris, this might cause the closure of the Potato Research Center. This would make farmers in the Nilgiris district face difficulty in obtaining potato seeds, and there is a risk of thousands of farmers losing their vocation. In protest against this so-called reform, a legislation burning campaign was held on June 10 on behalf of the agrarian unions.

The President issued an ordinance to regulate co-operative banks under the control of the central bank. The BJP government has delegated executive powers over the co-operative banks to the RBI. Some people are suggesting that such an act would undoubtedly benefit farmers as these banks are not managed well under the corrupt state politics. Is the Central government free of corrupt politics? Is the RBI able to function independently?

The central bank is the puppet of the central government. This is not to imply that the RBI should act in favor of liberal trade, completely independent of the state. When the RBI did not voice out or prevent the federal government's anti-democratic economic activities, this change of administration does not guarantee impartial action. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Tamil Nadu is mediating some of the nationalized bank loan schemes as if it is the BJP party’s own scheme. They have also launched a website (www.bankloanhelplinedsbjp.in), even this has not been objected to by the RBI. This handover of power to RBI would undermine the autonomy of states and the principle of co-operative federalism.

Nitin Gadkari has called on the states to come up with a Rs. 20 lakh crore funds (10% of the GDP) to smoothen the economic stagnation caused by Covid-19, as the states have been forced to raise revenue through liquor sales and lottery issuance. When even the central government claimed to have given a 20 lakh crore ‘fiscal’ package, mostly of credit schemes, where will the states go for 20 lakh crores?

To contain the impact of Covid-19, the finance ministry has asked all sectors to utilize financial resources prudently and launch no new project this fiscal year. It has also announced that plans for implementation this fiscal year, would be postponed until March 31 next year. Statistical analyst Pranab Sen has stated that if the government's allocation of financial incentives diminishes, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will fall by 10.8%.

The central bank says that if banks waive interest rates, banks will lose Rs 2 lakh crore. Why were such voices never heard while waiving the interest along with the principal of NPAs of big corporates? 

Starting with India’s coal mines, all natural resources have been liberalized, opened up totally, and handed over to Ambanis, Adanis, and foreign corporates. After all this, is there a logic or meaning in shouting patriotism, patriotism from the house tops. The BJP government should show patriotism in allocating funds for the masses, the public sector, and job creation. Patriotism cannot be sustained solely by boycotting Chinese goods. That is not to say that India should fall on China’s feet but prostrating before America is not patriotism.

A survey by the All India Manufacturing Association revealed that 72% of SMEs and 42% of corporates tend to trim their workforce, which would result in mass unemployment. The central government has given its approval to provide a 9.25% low-interest collateral-free loan to MSMEs up to Rs. 3 lakh crores. Financial assistance of up to 75 lakhs or capital assistance of up to 15% of the enterprise's shareholding, whichever is less, will be given as per this scheme. Only those companies with up to 25 crore outstanding loans in the preceding 6 months are eligible to avail of the above-said assistance. But startups and debt-free companies that strive to obtain capital are not able to get financing through this scheme.

The central govt has announced a 2% interest subvention scheme for SMEs' MUDRA loan scheme for regular, timely payment of loan installments, which is too only for 12 months. Is this the time to implement such a conditional scheme? At a time even when the central bank itself has given 6 months' moratorium relief to pay off the loan installments, though, of course, it has not been properly implemented. In rural areas, there are continuing allegations that agents of financial institutions threaten women to pay off outstanding loan balances.

With crude oil prices falling everywhere, the BJP government has hiked the price of petrol and diesel by 22 times in 21 days. Petrol is sold in Chennai at Rs 83.63 and diesel at Rs 77.37 per litre. The Central Oil and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told the Chief Executive of OPEC, the Organization of Petrol Exporting Countries which produce crude oil, that they should keep crude oil production and prices globally stable. If the OPEC chief asks him in return: “Well, let it be, the prize is steady all over the world, but why are petrol and diesel prices soaring in your country alone?” where would he keep his face?

The Prime Minister has announced that the implementation of the Garib Kalyan Yojana (scheme) will be extended to the end of November. The scheme, which claims to have 80 million beneficiaries, has not reached all the people. The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - an institution that aims to slash the funding for the poor - has advised Narendra Modi to give concessions, including direct monetary assistance and handouts to the poor. This itself has shown the extent of the downfall in the economy. But even such hard times are the only plaything for our Prime Minister, for he says the South Indians are spending time playing Pallankuzhi, leaving the economy in an abyss. None, but he can talk such things, shirking his responsibilities. How can it be entertained when the country's prime ministerial responsibilities are washed off?

It is worth recalling that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said it took four years for India’s GDP to recover from the 1918 crisis caused by the Spanish flu in India. We can only conclude that the BJP regime has really ensured that the economic recovery would not happen in the shape of a U or a V.

- Samantha


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