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The election hullabaloo has meant that economic issues have taken a back seat, and open public discussion about future economic policies has been relatively absent. This is surprising, because even the (admittedly problematic) opinion polls brought out by various media organizations regularly describe economic issues such as price rise and lack of employment opportunities as major concerns at least in voters’ minds. Very few of the major parties have come out with clear programs about what exactly they plan to do to address the complex set of problems currently faced by the Indian economy, and those that have done so (such as the Left parties) have got minimal press coverage.
But, in fact, whatever new government is formed is going to face quite formidable challenges, both immediately and in the medium term. And these complex challenges are, unfortunately, ignored by both the misleadingly wishful and vague “ache din ayenge” slogan of the major opposition party and the defensive posturing of the ruling party.
The immediate problems are obvious. The mainstream media has been most concerned about the flagging rate of output growth, which is reflected in flat or declining industrial production over the previous year and decelerating exports. Declining rates of fixed investment are likely to have an impact on both infrastructure conditions and productive capacity in the coming years. Agricultural growth has recovered in the current year, but mainly because of the munificenceof the 2013 monsoon, underlying the agriculture’s continued dependence on wayward weather conditions. This dependence is a source of concern not only in itself but because of prognosis of the deleterious effects of El Nino on the coming monsoon, which would, in turn, affect prospects for crop production in the coming year. And it is a pointer to how, overall, the condition of cultivators in India still remains fragile.
The other palpable problem is the continued high rate of inflation, particularly consumer price inflation, which has led to the situation being described as a stagflationary one (decelerating output growth accompanied by relatively high inflation). It is evident that this is really cost-push inflation, driven by increases in fuel prices and by prices of food items. So the focus of the government should be on addressing these elements, by improving conditions of agricultural supply and reducing the global impact of volatile food prices, and creating a mechanism of administered fuel prices that does not expose Indian consumers (most of whom have per capita incomes that are a small fraction of the global average) to high and volatile global oil prices.
Yet thus, far, the official response has been to treat inflation control as the sole domain of the central bank, in a peculiar and inevitably unsuccessful version of inflation-targeting that causes interest rates and monetary policy to be the only policy instruments to be utilised. This blunt strategy affects investment and economic activity adversely, and does not really control inflation since the cost-push forces thereby deteriorate further. So the next government will have to have a more effective strategy to address inflation.
The issue of employment generation is often seen as a medium-term concern, since any policies are unlikely to have immediate effects, especially in a country like India with a preponderance of informal activities. Yet, it is no less pressing for that. Three aspects of the employment scenario have indeed assumed dire proportions: the decline of recognised work by women; the need to meet the aspirations of the growing number of youth entering the labour force; and the fragility of existing livelihoods and employment. All of these effectively require emergency treatment—ideally within a systematic and planned medium-term framework, though that may be hoping for too much in the current Indian context.
Consider each of these in turn. The recent phenomenal deterioration in women’s recognised work participation rates—which is, in fact, one of the more obvious indicators of the economic empowerment of women—has been widely commented upon but is still inadequately understood. Much of the decline in work participation has been among self-employed workers, including (but not only) those involved in agriculture. It is true that the growing mechanisation of agriculture has played a role in the reduced demand for women’s work. In addition, changes in ecological conditions have led to declines in many rural activities earlier performed mainly by women, such as the collection of minor forest produce.
On the basis of the above passage, answer the following questions :
- Which among the following facts about most Indian political parties has been asserted by the author?
a.They are doing everything to make India self dependent
b.They are not focusing on the economic policies
c.They are giving private sector more freedom
d.They have a very bright vision for India
e.They are engaged in malpractices
- Which of the following statement is false regarding India’s agricultural sector?
a.It largely depends on weather conditions
b.El Nino would affect crop production in coming year
c.Monsoon of 2013 prevented agriculture to recover in the current year
d.Condition of cultivators is still fragile in India
e.The prospect of crop production in coming year is not bright.
- What is stagflation as per the passage?a. Higher output growth with high inflation
b. Lower inflation with higher output growth
c. Higher inflation with lower output growth
d. Lower output growth with low inflation
e. None is correct as per the passage
- Which among the following option (s) is/are true in regard to the strategies used by RBI to control Inflation as per the passage?
a.RBI considers controlling Inflation as its sole domain
b.RBI incorporates interest rates and monetary policy as its only policy instruments to control Inflation.
c.RBI’s policy action lead to further deterioration of cost push forces
d.RBI’s strategies affect investment and economic activity negatively
e.All of the above
- Which among the following option (s) is/are true regarding the employment generation in India as per the passage?
a.The growing number of labour forces in India
b.Employment generation schemes undertaken by the Indian ministry is influenced by the State cooperatives.
c.Employment generation policies do not have an immediate effect in India.
d.There is a scarcity of informal activities in India
e.All of the above
- Which of the following is farthest in meaning to Formidable as used in the passage?
- Which of the following is farthest in meaning to Fragile as used in the passage?
- Which of the following is farthest in meaning to Deleterious as used in the passage?
- Which of the following is closest in meaning to Palpable as used in the passage?
- Which of the following is closest in meaning to Dire as used in the passage?