Month: April 2009

India and the Economic Meltdown: Challenges and Possible Responses

The financial crisis across the globe and the ensuing responses by nations and non-state actors has dominated both public consciousness and political debate in the recent past. The discussion on suitable stimulus packages, the causes for the financial disorder and future restructuring of the financial systems has often been dominated by the rhetoric of specific constituencies serving individual interests even as it loses sight of the substantive argument. In India too, the eagerness to commend our regulatory practices has tended to brush the larger debate on the actual economic fallout of the crisis under the carpet.

The financial crisis across the globe and the ensuing responses by nations and non-state actors has dominated both public consciousness and political debate in the recent past. The discussion on suitable stimulus packages, the causes for the financial disorder and future restructuring of the financial systems has often been dominated by the rhetoric of specific constituencies serving individual interests even as it loses sight of the substantive argument.

In India too, the eagerness to commend our regulatory practices has tended to brush the larger debate on the actual economic impact of the crisis under the carpet. As the world economy lurches ahead, the fallout on the country and the innovative measures necessary to guide the Indian economy through this downturn need to take centre stage. The recently concluded G-20 summit at London too did not result in any concrete measures and the outcome was a litany of intentions rather than actions.

This paper examines the “conservative and prudent practices” within the Indian financial sector that cushioned the direct impact of the institutional meltdown witnessed in the West and discusses the measures that the country must pursue to regain the growth momentum and help restructure the global financial order. It seeks to highlight some of the priorities that must guide India’s responses on the path to economic recovery.

The main policy recommendations are as follows:

(i) Give highest priority to public investment in infrastructure and social sector;

(ii) Ensure credit for private sector to enable participation in infrastructure and manufacturing sectors. This would generate employment and spur GDP growth;

(iii) Encourage public and private investments through tax and other incentives in Rural Development and Agriculture sectors. Make supply chain infrastructure a national mission;

(iv) Develop alternate business models to ‘SEZs’. Policy must encourage ‘rural business hubs’ along with development of rural markets.

(v) Develop domestic BPOs and IT services markets. Special emphasis on development of IT infrastructure in rural and peri-urban areas;

(vi) India must seek out a new geo-economic space for itself through regional and international trade arrangements.

Read the full issue brief here