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GST And Demonetisation Have Crippled The Economy, And It’s Going To Get Worse

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By Sakshi Ranjan:

According to this report on Firstpost, the GDP for the April-June quarter was stuck at a pathetic three-year low of 5.7%. According to economists, this slowdown can be attributed to the recent changes brought about by the government. Specifically – demonetisation and the reckless and hasty implementation of GST (Goods and Services Tax).

A 7% increase was expected, and it would have certainly been an achievable goal, had it not been for the note-ban and the implementation of the indirect tax reform.

The Double Blow

It has been close to one year since the demonetisation was announced by the government. And since then, the move has resulted in a massive disruption, especially in the rural and unorganised sectors, resulting in a massive increase in unemployment and a sudden decrease in consumption.

The informal sectors and the small-scale sectors that have been thoroughly hit are responsible for at least 50% of India’s GDP, if not more. The majority of the population in the country is found in rural areas and the informal sectors. And these sectors, being already distressed, have slid down the spiral, reducing the overall demand in the economy.

It has been opined that this series of Demonetisation and GST was preceded by back to back droughts in the country, which makes us question the timing of the conceptualisation and the implementation of these reforms.

Reportedly, the former finance minister Yashwant Sinha has said that an expeditious revival of the economy cannot be expected, at least not until after the next general elections, and that if the old calculation methods are used to calculate the GDP growth, then the same for the April-June quarter will fall farther to 3.7%.

As per the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), these surly after-effects that the implementation of demonetisation and GST have brought about will continue even into the next financial year.

Results After GST Implementation

It was also reported that trading companies had started de-stocking in the hope that they would buy up fresh stocks under the new tax system after the implementation of the GST on July 1, 2017.

But analysts say the re-stocking process being carried out by the companies is futile, and firms should rather wait for the GST system to stabilise before going full swing again due to its haphazard implementation.

This development being put into play just before the festive season, has further slowed down consumption by the consumers and is bound to impact GDP growth in the second half of 2017, resulting from massive ‘demand squeeze’.

A major risk of revenue shortfall is to be expected in 2017-18 due to the patchy working of the GST network (GSTN). As reported, the finance ministry received GST refund applications that totalled ₹65,000 crore for July, when total collections were ₹95,000 crore. And if all refunds are allowed, the Centre would be left with a minimal ₹30,000 crore when in actuality the net collections are budgeted at over ₹90,000 crore a month on average.

These glitches that have unceremoniously occurred since the software of the GSTN has been incorporated, showcase the shoddy implementation and the lack of preparation by the government before they decided to roll out of this ‘landmark reform’.

The Governments Explanation

The government, however, has been adamant in its stance that that the current economic slowdown only reflects the temporary ‘teething troubles’ of the GST, and moreover, demonetisation has been termed as a major step towards fighting corruption by the BJP, according to an article on Hindu Business Line.

Inspite of the angle that the government is trying to give to demonetisation – of how it has been and will be good – no one can deny that so far it has just been a big fat disaster, and even known economists are backing up this point. Whether you take black money or you take terrorism, there has been no positive change in either of these areas.

In fact, all this has only resulted in the resurfacing of counterfeit money and robbing a couple of million daily earners off of their only source of income.

One could argue that demonetisation has introduced about 9.1 million new taxpayers, thus indicating an increase in revenue of the country, but unfortunately, this will not be bringing the kind of big and impactful change that we are being made to believe.

The said reforms obviously have ignored the interests of the ‘last man’, who’s faced the brunt and continues to do so. In a non-inclusive economy like ours, the social costs of attempted changes cannot be overlooked. The dwindling economic status of the population is bound to lead to overall insecurity, giving rise to ruptures in the societal fabric.

The government needs to shake off its state of denial, to admit and acknowledge errors towards rectification. Questions and criticism are increasingly being seen as pessimism and national disloyalty; a facet that poses grave dangers to the democracy. The dead habit of paying attention to conformists is certainly not the need of the hour to rescue the economy out of its current tailspin.

A version of this post was first published here.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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