November , 2017
15:05 pm

Dr. H. P. Kanoria

Dear Reader,

The internet has become the friend of about 53% of Indians whereas the global average of internet users is 51%. India is fast becoming ‘Digital India’. China scores 36% and Japan 39% in internet connectivity. While the internet has its positives like connecting with people, self-expression, sharing opinions with others, easy access to services, making online purchases, it also has its negatives like online gaming, gambling, pornography, rumor-mongering, addiction to the net that result in reduced creativity, poor memory, disrupted  sleep pattern, restlessness, aggressive social media behavior, etc.

Like addiction to alcohol and drugs, addiction to the internet is increasing. It is leading to dangers of serious illnesses like schizophrenia, depression, suicidal tendencies, isolation, apathy to work, negligence to work, and irritability. It is difficult to detect internet addiction. Unlike alcohol and tobacco de-addiction, there are no clear medicines or replacement therapy. In the US and some other countries, centres for treatment for internet addiction have been opened. Doctors say the way to reduce addiction in children is to open conversation channels. Parents should not be aggressive rather they should become friends.

In America, over 60% of 13 to 17 year-olds spend more than two hours a day on social networking sites. About 69% of seventh grade students claim to have experienced cyber bullying, which is as bad and sometimes as aggresive as face-to-face bullying. It has long lasting impression and effects. Students are being forced to give up their social media passwords to school administration. Some youngsters are posting photos using drugs and other activities. Militants are using the social media for their nefarious purposes. 

India’s growing telecom penetration has got a huge section of the youth hooked on to the internet. This addiction is emerging as a major problem. About 24.6% of adolescents have internet addiction problem. Kids aged 8 and below spend about 2 hours and 48 minutes on an average daily on cell phones.

Due to the death dare game called “Blue Whale” worldwide, a number of deaths have occurred. Throughout India, several cases of child suicide,
self-harm, attempt to suicide were caused by Blue Whale. Government of India has made a formal request to several internet companies to remove all links to this game.

Balanced and the right use of the internet will certainly benefit the society. The internet companies should not allow all matters to be uploaded. Social media has been helping business, trade, education, health, industries and other sectors in a great way. Beneficial effects of the internet cannot be ignored in the light of harmful effects, which can be greatly reduced by legislation and by declaring certain aspects of use of internet as criminal offence. The internet companies like Google and Facebook should take responsibility for the content on their platform.

Introduction of the GST as ‘one nation, one tax ’ was good. But, as reported by BE in the initial stages that too many tax rates and high rates applicable on a wide range of commodities and services has reduced its effectiveness, putting too much hardship on the public, disrupting the small and medium traders and entrepreneurship as a whole has suffered in the process. The government has now initiated a series of corrective measures but these measures lack
pragmatic solutions. It is rather complicating the whole process. For instance, some have to file returns quarterly and some monthly. How there would be reconciliation and refund in time. Revenue Secretary, Hasmukh Adhia, recently said, “Convergence of rates is unlikely to materialise this year. More items could be shifted from higher to lower tax slabs.”  The GST of 12-18% on many services has been affecting employment. Many organisations that provide
services are closing down. Proposed service tax of 12% on real estate will immensely affect the sector, which is ailing already. The government’s scheme of affordable housing will also be affected. Total registration cost varies between 10 to 15% and
service tax of 12% will make housing costly, which is already beyond the means of the common and
lower middle class people.

The Union Government intends to bring domestic workers within the purview of a formal policy, entitling them to a minimum wage and social security benefits normally extended to formal workers. Social security benefits would lead to chaos in the family, which is fragmented as nuclear family, senior citizens family, individuals living alone, widows, etc. Inspector Raj will come. Rural areas will be affected. Government must not ignore the facts that about 26% of the population is illiterate. It will also affect the domestic employment of maid much more. Linking of Aadhaar for opening a bank account will dampen the spirit of cashless economy.

Except a few large units, steel industry is still
in the red. India is still a net importer of steel. Government must take corrective measures to save
the industry.

The recently constituted Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister has identified ten priority areas for reviving growth and employment. The ten focus areas are economic growth, employment job creation, informal sector and integration, fiscal framework, monetary policy, public expenditure, institution of economic governments, agricultural and animal husbandry, patterns of consumption and production, and social sectors. Government is also focussing on finding sector-specific solutions. For power sector, government is trying to find solutions for high debts and poor income due to problem in selling, cancellation of power purchase agreements (PPAs), etc.

Projected investments needed in infrastructure over five years come to around `43 lakh crore.
The government is considering to set aside 20-30% of budgetary resources. The government has announced
` 2.11 lakh crore capital infusion plan for state-owned banks and ` 5.5. lakh crore for road development
to boost economy. Banks will get
` 1.35 lakh crore from bonds, ` 18,000 crore from the budget and
` 58,000 crore from diluting government’s equity in PSBs. Fitch rating estimates Indian banks will need nearly $ 65 billion in bank capital by 2019.

Governments must prioritise providing employment to 12 million people entering the work force annually and reviving investment. Anil Agarwal, a billionaire industrialist, says that the government should have big hearts. It is imperative for the government to clear projects expeditiously, relax rules and regulations which hinder entrepreneurship, and stop constant threats to promoters and entrepreneurs.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Chief Christine Lagarde’s comments that the Indian economy is on a very solid track has boosted investors’ confidence. Domestic investors are ignoring the high valuation, which would affect the returns on investment. Foreign institutional investors have pulled out a net $ 1.85 million. At present, domestic liquidity is robust, but it may not be equal to foreign fund outflow.

To conclude, let the people of India including political leaders and bureaucrats work hard with unity and cohesiveness irrespective of caste, religion and so on. Lord Buddha had preached to ‘follow the middle and balanced path’. The world needs to have medium
term outlook. Temporary cyclical upswing, which defies fundamentals can pose a serious risk for the global economy.

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