TODAY -

The state of the economy in the dark times in the mainland and Manipur
- Imphal Times Editorial :: December 31 2019 -



The International Monetary Fund, which has always praised the Modi government, has said that India is facing a slowdown.

Economists have termed this slowdown, the Great Indian Slowdown. Both the former Reserve Bank of India Governors, Raghuram Rajan and Arvind Subramaniam have claimed that India is facing an economic slowdown.

Nobel laureate economists Abhijit Banerjee has similar views on the matter. This reveals that even those economists who support the existing market driven economic system are not very happy with the state of Indian economy.

India is facing an unemployment crisis. Agriculture production is also in crisis. People do not have money and consumption in rural India has sharply declined.

All these are reflected in the growth of India’s Gross Domestic Product. GDP growth rate reached a new low in this quarter, 4.5 percent. This should worry the government.

Economists have claimed that the worst is not over yet. Now learned economists are cursing the bold measures of this government, demonetisation and GST.

While all these are happening in economy, political chaos has become the new normal. Kashmir is still under heavy military repression with no internet.

In all the non-BJP states in mainland India political mobilisation against CAA and all India-NRC are happening.

In BJP ruled states, mass protests, violence, state repression, mass detentions, arrests and above all police firing have happened.

BJP has started a mass campaign in favour of CAA. The country will now discuss CAA.

Though CAA is the most political of all the matters in the air now and it is rightly so, the focus must also be given to economic realities of the dark times.

The protests in mainland India have started incorporating the economic angle. Economy and politics must go hand in hand and in our analysis, they must figure together.

Experts tell us that the political crisis will further impact the economy.

BJP leaders, as one has accepted in public, were not prepared for the protests they are facing when they passed the CAA in the parliament and IMF also revealed that the down turn of Indian economy was surprising.

Both in economy and politics, it seems the ruling party at the centre is in damage control mode now.

Can a conflict ridden poor state like Manipur remain unaffected by the slowing economy in the mainland? The answer is obvious.

When it comes to Manipur, the state has always been poor. But now the overdrafts have returned.

The Economic Survey of Manipur 2018-19 reveals that Gross State Domestic Product for agriculture, forestry and fishing has declined gradually since 2015 when calculated at constant prices. For the year 2016-17, the GSDP for this sector was Rs. 269945 Lakhs at constant prices.

It declined in the next year to Rs 265085 Lakhs and further declined to Rs. 263909 Lakhs in 2018-19. The prices that the farmers got while selling their paddy has also declined.

The price that a farmer receive while selling a quintal of paddy, according to this survey report, in 2016-17 was Rs. 1593 and in the next year it fell to Rs. 1550 per quintal for the autumn paddy.

For the winter paddy, the prices fell from Rs. 1636 to Rs. 1612 per quintal for the respective years.

However, the wholesale price of milled rice has steadily increased and also the retail price has increased. It means that neither the farmers nor those purchasing rice from the retail shops have been benefited.

Gross State Domestic Product in primary sector, which includes manufacturing, electricity, gas, water supply and construction, calculated at constant prices has also declined steadily since 2015.

The only silver lining comes from the service sector where there is a steady growth. The per capita remains quite low compared to other north-eastern states and much lower than the national average.

We should also remember that more than ten lakh people in Manipur are living below the poverty line since 2011, according to the poverty estimate of the then planning commission data released in 2013.

It means that more than ten lakh people live on less than forty rupees per day in this state.

Though the conflict, as claimed by the government has drastically reduced in recent years, we do not see any drastic improvement in the state’s economy.

If we take the data of industrial production for July 2017-18 and July 2018-19 and compare it, there is negative growth of forty percent.

We see similar declined for the month of May and June for the respective years. The economic survey report of 2018-19 admits the issues in agriculture, manufacturing and employment.

The report claims that “despite persistent efforts made by the Government, the state continues to be an industrially backward state.”

It further reveals that “despite the crucial importance of this primary sector in the state’s economy, the irregular and erratic behaviour of monsoon accompanied by inadequate irrigation facilities have resulted in severe fluctuations in agricultural production.

Agriculture becomes a living proposition rather than a commercial proposition.”

When it comes to unemployment, it says that “due to ever-increasing number of educated job seekers including technical and professional job-seekers, the problem of unemployment is continuing to be a matter of serious concern to the state’s economy.”

These revelations are not new. These sentences have been copied and pasted from the earlier economic survey reports of 2016-17, 2015-16 and 2013-14.

We will find the same sentences without any change in these earlier reports.

It seems neither the reality nor its analysis has changed even though we are living in a new Manipur, as claimed by the political leaders in the state government.

Lastly, a question remains. How are we going to call this our good days when it is both politically and economically very grim?



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