In Retrospect, Government Policies That Brought The Indian Economy To Its Knees

On the lies of and emotional misleads by PM Modi.

For reference

PM Modi, on Sunday, December 29, asked the Indian people to buy local products produced by domestic manufacturers and try to refrain from purchasing foreign company made goods till 2022. He tweeted this by labeling this request as his “Tribute to all those who worked hard for India’s freedom and had some dreams for the nation. Can we think of buying as many local products as possible?

It was not very hard to understand that this was not a request but begging wrapped as an emotionally misleading statement, considering the current status of the Indian economy that has arisen out of the sheer failure of wrong policy-making and structural defaults as a whole.

(L) Former PM Manmohan Singh; (R) Former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan

Firstly, this government brought in demonetisation which caused irreversible damaged to not just the Indian economy, but also took more than 50 lives due to the inability of people in being able to access their hard-earned money. Amongst the many who criticised this decision of government were former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan, Former PM Manmohan Singh, and two Nobel laureates in economic science, Richard Thaler and Abhijit Banerjee.

In RBI’s own report, it stated that almost 99.7% of the currency came back to banks. However, it failed to identify both, the number of counterfeit notes, and the black money, it promised. But, this move’s devastating impact was most felt by the agriculture sector and the medium and small scale industries. While this policy also encouraged corruption at large, when it is reported that people exchanged their currencies at 20 to 30% of their total money.

Secondly, the government brought in the half-baked, half-thought of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the name of unifying the Indian tax system. This only made India’s indirect tax system more regressive taxation, in a country where inequality is still a major concern, and a major chunk of the wealth still remains in the hands of few. This, again, impacted the medium and small enterprises badly.

Where many people and enterprises went through a hard time, trying to understand the complicated process of the GST, at the same time, followed by the date of imposition, the government continued to make changes in the way fillings were to be made under GST for businesses. That, in retrospect, established the fact that the government tried to impose this policy not in just in a hurry, but without proper execution and planning.

There were some comments about a few developed countries that have opted for this kind of taxation system, but it is worthwhile to address the social and economic differences between those countries and India. Further, the GST also impacted and distorted the federal structure of the Indian taxation system.

We saw political and economic steps like these, along with many other unjustified acts, like the interference with autonomous bodies, like the Reserve Bank of India and its treasury, which proved to be a double-edged sword piercing the Indian economy from its base.

Urjit Patel

On the one hand, former RBI governors like Raghuram Rajan and Urjit Patel, former chief economic advisor to the government, Arvind Subramanian, two senior officials of the NSSO, had taken the decision to move away from such an unhealthy political environment in which everything moved in an authoritarian way.

Former PM Manmohan Singh stated that people have started “losing faith in the currency and banking systems.” This was a serious concern coming from an economist’s point of view, someone who knew its grave effects and what may come off this, if not dealt with properly.

Therefore, on the other hand, the results were as expected. The domestic demand in the market went down drastically and the reason was the decreasing purchasing power of the people. The unemployment rate was at a 45-year high.

The rising inflation, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and increased price of oil, specifically raised serious concerns for consumers. The automobile sector, along with many other sectors, saw a massive decrease in production due to decreasing demands. The GDP was at its lowest in many years, dipping down to 4.5%. Production is at its lowest in many sectors.

At such a crucial time, when the government could have helped consumers regain confidence by elevating their purchasing power to increase demands, it once again chose to go on the wrong side at the wrong time, and exacerbated an already bad situation.

Representational image.

In an economy where there continues to be a lack of demand, the government decided to give a corporate tax relaxation, decreasing it from 35% to 25%, and so, the effective tax comes to 22%. The policy tried to invite more firms to invest in the economy and increase production where there was already no demand.

But, what was unfortunate was the government’s overall response in these times of crisis. When unemployment is at its peak, when growth and production are at the lowest, when people are losing confidence in banks and economy, the government continued to spend thousands of crores on statues.

We have seen the decreasing the education budget over the years and increasing fees in public-funded universities by being inconsiderate towards the social cost and inclusive structures of these government-institutions. And, much devastation for the Indian education system awaits in the form of the draft New Education Policy (NEP), where the government clearly showed negligence in providing education at a low cost, running away from fulfilling this fundamental right.

PM Modi Ramlila Maidan Speech
PM Modi

Thousands of crores are being spent on policies and acts, like the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) to divert public attention from such crucial issues, and giving it a communal agenda. Worst of all, the voices of dissent are being forcefully shutdown and the right to protest being taken away.

Therefore, in these times, the PM has to beg people to help in the recovery of chaos so big that he has himself steered the country into, chaos and imbalance that he still is neglecting, and not accepting on an open platform.

Featured image credit: Wikimedia Commons
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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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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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