THE expert estimation that India may end up with a gaping 4% hole in its GDP -- worth Rs. 9 lakh crore (USD 120 billion) -- as the price for its fight-back against coronavirus, will make anybody feel shell-shocked. Even as the experts who have predicted the size of the damage to the economy have asked for a bail-out package, and the Government, too, has expressed its willingness to offer help to the best of its capacity. Thus, once the coronavirus scare is effectively dealt with, then the real task before the nation will be to rebuild the economy to a robust health.
And in that task, everybody’s contribution will be required in full measure. Of course, many countries around the world will be fighting back the economic damage of the coronavirus infection. And that will make the task of economic recovery that much more difficult since every other country would be engaged in a similar activity of reconstruction. In such a situation, the task before India will be of paramount importance, not only from its own narrow point of view but also from the point of view of the fact that it has emerged as a regional and global economic power over the past some time. Obviously, therefore, the world will expect India to play a larger role as well while it engages itself in its own economic reconstruction. Let alone that, India will have to draw upon its reserve -- economic and spiritual -- to build back the damaged part of the economy. It would have to bring into effect a greater socio-economic discipline in its overall conduct of its affairs so that each rupee traveled farther than it did previously. If the larger Indian society understands this correctly, if the Indian leadership is able to communicate this sense of dedicated effort to the people in the streets, then the task will appear easier to achieve than otherwise.
It this aspect of the task of the economic reconstruction that will require greatest of efforts, in the short and long runs. The effort to implement an effective social distancing in a phased manner will act as a preparatory model for the economic reconstruction. Barring marginal violation of the concept of social distancing by remaining indoors, the Indian nation has shown its remarkable ability to extend fullest cooperation to the official efforts when things came to crunch. This mental disciplining will come in handy as a tool in economic fight-back in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has often said in the past few weeks that the Indian industry and business have done a great job in extending fullest cooperation to the Government.
His were not just the politically correct words aimed at better public relations. The Prime Minister actually meant what he said, showcasing the strong sense unity, solidarity and responsibility India’s business and industry have demonstrated over the past three months. The next few months after the coronavirus scare is over will be of immense importance. Indian economy will have to create a new culture of innovation that will save money, add value to the art and science of management, and put extra punch into methods of generating surplus. Most importantly, the operators of Indian economy -- in Government and elsewhere -- will have to work with a strong commitment to integrity and honesty of thought and action. Whenever an emergency confronts a nation, what counts most is its sense of high morality that makes no distinction between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ ensuring an even spread of economic justice and equality. India has fortunate to have in its fold great thinkers and leaders who have stayed up-front of national action on the basis of right moral values. In the next some months, our national effort of economic reconstruction will need their value-system.