India’s economy is NOT in the news. In fact, India’s economy is the most boring, most irrelevant and most worthless topic that any news channel or any journalist or any academic could possibly discuss right now.
Why? Because India’s economy is soaring, that’s why!
And if they start talking about this, Modi will get the credit. There is a reason news channels are discussing some remark by some new entrant in BJP. Because India’s Index of Industrial Production (IIP) number just came out yesterday. And news channels would rather tell the world anything than admit that the IIP number is a scorching 7.5%
Industrial Production is up! Inflation is down!
For Indian media, it is time to scale down, roll up and pretend like the economy simply does not exist.
What are the insta-economists on news channels supposed to tell the viewers? That vehicle sales are up as much as 23% in February?
Or that lakhs of borrowers are now going to formal lenders as India moves towards a formalized, first world like the economy?
That would be like admitting that Modi’s decision to inflict short-term pain in order to bring about important structural changes was the right thing to do. That when Narendra Modi took over the reins of the country, he first gave it two years to recover from the decade of decay under Dr Singh and Sonia Gandhi. In this period, India soared to become the world’s fastest-growing economy.
Then, Modi intervened. He brought in structural changes that oriented India towards becoming more of a formalized economy. The greatest tax reform in history was enacted and implemented. This resulted in a brief, six-month lull where the Indian economy spluttered as it absorbed the shock of change.
This period is now over and India’s economy has bounced back to reclaim the World No. 1 spot.
“Economists” who made a lot of hay in this intervening six month period have gone completely silent now. Basically, they are hiding under their desks, banking on public memory to run out quickly. They are hoping we all forget the brief period when everyone from Sagarika Ghose to Vinod Dua was an economist.
Ironically enough, this episode shows that the Indian left can teach the right a masterclass in political propaganda. When the tough reforms were coming, the left identified the opportunity quickly. They also realized that it would be a small window before the rewards for this short-term pain would begin to show. So they jumped in all at once and dumped their entire payload in a very focused manner in a very short span of time. In doing so, they maximized their effectiveness and their impact. Beginning mid-November, the left began a tactical withdrawal on the economic front, making sure that they would not be caught on the wrong foot when the Q3 GDP figures came in end February.
By the time the Q3 GDP figures arrived to vindicate Narendra Modi, the news cycle had moved very far away from the economy. The strike on Modi’s economic record was thus carried out with surgical precision, it’s timing and length managed to perfection.
Amazingly, the right has also moved on from talking about the economy. Ironically, the right is in lockstep with the left, always walking one step behind them. As of now, the right is busy responding to the latest item on the left’s agenda, as usual. Guess who has forgotten to showcase their own achievements on the economy?
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.