Dr. Jyotsna Jha was invited to give a lecture on ‘Indian economy after Covid’ organised by Office of Doctoral Studies (ODS) (OP Jindal Global University) though a webinar to interact with Doctoral students across disciplines along with other guest participants. The webinar was moderated by Prof. (Dr.) Krishna Kumar Pandey (Professor and Director, ODS O.P. Jindal Global University). It was held on 22 June 2020.
The webinar was divided into two equal sessions of 45 minutes each – one for the lecture and one for the Q&A.
Jyotsna started by outlining the major features of pre-Covid economy to be able to trace the changes and challenges of the post-Covid economy. She identified these following trends:
She emphasised that these need to be understood through their interconnections. These should not be seen in isolation. In the post Covid Indian economy, all these features got exposed and also got exacerbated in certain cases. An example of how a health shock is pushing a slow and highly unequal economy towards recession on one hand and exposing the uncaring and unaccountable nature of all our institutions leading to unprecedented distress and even hunger deaths. The apathy towards migrant labourers is amazing. The economy is heavily dependent on them yet they are completely invisible. Reverse migration is going to put pressure on agriculture sector. It also has adverse caste and gender implications. Women are bearing the additional burden of care work alongside extra responsibility of continuing with their paid work and children’s education. Export sectors such as garments are facing sharp fall in demand, making them unsustainable. Slackening demand in affecting every sector. Health is in shambles and education at a standstill.
It is important to expand MGNREGA with a focus on non-farm sectors, revised wages and increased number of ensured work-days. For future course of action, she suggested reviving the economy by reviving the aggregate demand. This revival is possible not through credit packages or doling out money rather through wage subsidies which in turn will increase purchasing power. In order to make the economy more participatory, the State must pay attention to voice, dignity, development and accountability. Increased Public Private Partnership, where the private contractors turned partners must shed their profit margins in order to make the economy more resilient. It is important to push for institutional reforms by building accountable public systems to use this opportunity. But unless political freedoms are rebuilt, the new economy order can’t be built.
The poster for the webinar can be viewed here.