Obviously, Modi regime cannot ignore India’s historic economic contraction on account of its pro-corporate and fascist policies since it is already an acknowledged fact even by IMF and other neoliberal centres. Hence, after acknowledging this at the outset, the Economic Survey 2020-21 has cunningly identified COVID-19 pandemic as the sole reason for India’s biggest economic collapse, and without any qualm has camouflaged the unprecedented crisis in terms of industrial stagnation, unemployment, widening inequality, sharpening wealth concentration and so on that reached horrific proportions on the eve of COVID.
At the same time, instead of admitting the great havoc resulting from the superimposition of the most stringent, most coercive and most prolonged lockdown, that too in the absence of any concomitant badly needed health and social security interventions that had imparted to the economy, the Economic Survey has justified the “great lockdown” in terms of its “life saving” effect and unsubstantiated claim on lower death rates. It now predicts a “V-shaped recovery supported by COVID vaccination drive” that also is subject to many controversies. Being forced to admit a 7.7 economic contraction during 2020-21, it envisages an 11 percent real GDP growth rate in 2021-22, backed by a false statement of IMF which is eager to justify the criminal corporatization of agricultural sector also at its behest. At the same upholding the need for countercyclical fiscal policy during economic crisis, the Survey also hints at new tranches of stimulus packages which are in store for the corporate classes in the forthcoming Budget.
Perfectly in tune with its far-right, pro-corporate orientation and indicating heavier doses of far-right policies, the Economic Survey has strongly defended new Farm Laws, saying they herald a new era of market freedom and improvement in the lives of “small and marginal farmers in India”. It argues that around 85 per cent of the total number of farmers are the biggest sufferer of the “regressive” APMC-regulated market regime, even as India is witnessing the biggest and long-running farmers’ agitation seeking repeal of these legislations. Among other things, it also proudly notes years 2019 and 2020 as landmark years in history of labour reforms during which 29 central labour laws amalgamated, rationalized and simplified into Four Labour Codes. The Survey also praises the Modi regime for taking a series of monetary, fiscal and tax policies for transforming India as the leading destination of FII (a euphemism for foreign speculative capital) in the world.
To be precise, the Economic Survey, should be seen as a prelude to the biggest-ever sell-outs to the most corrupt corporates that will be there in the Budget 2021 to be presented to parliament on February 1. The hike of petrol price per litre to Rs 91 on the eve of the budget, while it is only Rs 51 in Nepal, is a warning to what is going to come out in the budget.
K N Ramachadran
CPI (ML) Red Star
30th January 2021