Reading a newspaper or watching television these days will make us believe that the Indian economy is already in a depression and our collective economic future is irredeemably doomed, if we are not dead already. The truth, as always, is more nuanced. By Vivek Sharma
Anyone who wants a dose of depression to calm or restrain their otherwise ebullient minds has a surefire remedy these days. Just open and read any of our financial newspapers or, if you are the type who wants to save trees, read their websites. Or turn on your TV set and listen to any of the talking heads blabbering away in our countless business channels.
You will be hard pressed to find even a single uplifting story anywhere. GDP growth has slumped to the worst in several years, or is that a decade? Corporate profits have crashed so much that some CEO's are foregoing their bonuses. Nobody is buying our exports and we are not importing enough.
Petrol prices have gone up and will make life miserable for the common man, but at the same time the government has been irresponsible in not raising diesel and LPG prices. The government is almost bankrupt, but the austerity measures announced recently won't make a dent, are ill-timed, and will make us another Europe.
The RBI is still unsure if it should fight inflation or support growth, and cannot cut interest rates even if it wants to. Our current account deficit is now broader than the Pacific, and we are not getting enough capital inflows to fill the gap like we used to in the past. And the rupee is facing oblivion.
In the midst of all these, we have a bumbling government that appears to have no clue about what is going on. On the rare occasion it appears to have come to terms with the situation, the government is so hopelessly inept that manageable problems are turned into disasters.
The main opposition party has still not completely given up the idea of retaining an 85-year old man as their evergreen prime ministerial candidate. And the man himself appears more eager than ever!
Corruption scandals do not make it to the front pages unless the money swindled is at least Rs50,000 crore. Other stories are confined to single columns and placed somewhere between local news and obituaries. No TV anchor with more than a week on the job will go after such stories. The Comptroller and Auditor General, whose benign existence barely registered for about 63 years since independence, has become the most powerful official in the country.