One can only hope that we will see mature handling of the economy and livelihoods coming through in the remainder of the year to bring back some semblance of respectability to the economy
There are enough WhatsApp jokes requesting God to cancel 2020 altogether and fast forward all of us to 2021, but the way the year is going into a free fall, it might well be the second half of 2021 before any modicum of recovery freshens time and space for all of us!
Possibly and hopefully the worst day of this “annus horribilis” or horrible year for India was the last day in August when a great Statesman Bharat Ratna Pranab Mukherjee died, India scaled new peaks in COVID-19 cases, the Chinese tried one more attack for territory in Ladakh, the economy’s dive of 23.9 per cent made India the worst performer in the league of significant nations, the Sensex gave up a month of spectacular gains by diving over 800 points not a great day to remember for any Indian.
For the interested intelligentsia who read this column, a dissection of the GDP slide reveals some alarming trends. At a headlines level, all the engines of growth seem to be spluttering, with declines in individual consumer expenditure by 27 per cent and private business by 47 per cent, shored up by increase in Government expenditure by 16 per cent and exports exceeding imports by 75,675 crores in this quarter in comparison to imports being higher by 1, 17,242 crores same quarter last year.
It does not need an economic expert to point out that if the country’s demand had been high, the imports would have been higher and Government would not to do compensatory over-spending and one could argue that the underlying problems in the economy are much larger than even the large decline suggests!
Barring agriculture, where the gross value addition has been 3.4 per cent, every indicator is declining – steel, coal and cement production, cargo and passenger movements and sales of vehicles, all representative of the malaise that pervades the economy. Mining, manufacturing, construction and trade and other employment generating sectors are all falling rapidly.
While the Chief Economic Advisor in a TV interview rather facetiously compared the situation to the first ten overs of a one day game, where the openers are digging in for doing better in the later stages of the match, cricket enthusiasts will recall one World Cup Game where our opener carried his bat through sixty overs to score 30 odd runs while wickets tumbled around him. One can only hope that we will see mature handling of the economy and livelihoods coming through in the remainder of the year to bring back some semblance of respectability to the economy and start creating the livelihoods that is so important to all of us in the corporate and social sectors.
We have overcome big challenges in the past and now again, we must prevail to rebuild our nation. Mera Bharat Mahaan!
Sustainable livelihoods have been the focus of the Pune Skills Lighthouses that we have built-in Pune City Connect in a Public-Private Partnership with Pune Municipal Corporation and this has also been the national focus we have taken since inception at Social Venture Partners India.
In the last three years, we have seen encouraging response from employers to hire young people in office assistant, computer operator, paramedical and multiple other job roles even if they are from underprivileged backgrounds or with some physical challenges.
With increasing support from CSR and philanthropic funding, high quality skills initiatives had begun to add tremendous value to the employability of youth till COVID-19 hit. The concern that many of us share is that the need to battle COVID-19 and save lives will take precedence over support to new job creation and with demand reaching all time low levels, even job losses may increase in the next few months.
At Samvaad 2020, the conclave on scaling social ventures that SVP India is hosting at the end of September, we have invited leaders of the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network, Aspen Institute’s Global Opportunity Youth Network, Tata Trusts. Ministry of Urban Development, the Smart Cities Mission and global leaders from the USA, Japan and Australia to share their own views on the future. We are also getting successful social entrepreneurs who have built superb non-profits like Swades and Educate Girls to share their thoughts on successful scaling.
This will be a real imperative to protect the mood of the nation from a slide into the trough of despondency. However, it will need the concerted efforts of Government, civil society, skills providers, impact investors and employment and entrepreneurship eco-systems to convert challenge into an opportunity for the hundreds of millions of job seekers in the country and the world.
And as though all these problems were not enough to worry us, the TV channels through the second half of August preferred to analyze the unfortunate suicide of troubled Bollywood actor SS Rajput and throw allegations and conjectures thick and fast. All the best to the CBI to unearth the truth in this sordid drugs and political drama, but surely half a billion people keeping the story alive have more things to obsess about?
The time has truly come to get over the excessive fear of a virus that is likely to be around in the country and the world for quite a few months before the much awaited-vaccine is widely available. We have overcome big challenges in the past and now again, we must prevail to rebuild our nation. Mera Bharat Mahaan!