We Bharatwasis celebrate Independence Day on August 15 and pay our homage to Bharat Mata. To liberate Bharat Mata from the clutches of British Empire, Her many sons and daughters sacrificed their lives. Their bodies were brutally tortured, but they did not feel the pain as their souls were immortal. None can torture a soul. All who are nurtured by Bharat Mata must love Her. All must be ready to sacrifice their lives irrespective of caste, religion, political alliance, interest, power, etc. Rishi Aurobindo had three madness - “Love for Mother, Love for Nation and Love for God”. Swami Vivekananda said, “The very dust of India is holy to me. I am proud to be an Indian.” Every Bharatwasi must save Her resources to feed all and for the inclusive and sustainable growth of the country.
The Indian Constitution was drafted by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and other eminent leaders. They had made a provision for 10 years of reservation for marginalised castes and tribes. This was to facilitate their upliftment. But more than five decades have passed since the end of the first ten-year period. Instead of being used as a tool for ushering in a more just society, reservations have become an instrument to serve vote bank politics and create a system of entitlements.
Reservations: Reservations tend to amount to restrictions on independence for professions and jobs as enshrined in the Constitution. In upper castes also, there are very poor people who do not have two meals per day. Even they cannot beg. So economic privilege, economic benefits, and economic infrastructure should be created for social benefits like health and education for all and not vote-bank reservations and subsidies. In the seven decades since independence, we have created a large army of people who are living on subsidies - taking but not giving and contributing. Social benefits should be related to the work done. History tells us how the Nawab of Lucknow used to get the building constructed during the day and got it demolished at night to provide employment to the people as the state suffered from drought. The country needs water management, waste management and cattle management. Forest lands while keeping the forest and other lands can be used for harvesting, animal husbandry and food. Let people be employed in these sectors.
Dalit and Scheduled Caste: There are also some castes, which are very much worse than the upper OBC. Lower OBC is in a state much worse than the upper OBC. How will reservations be done? The claims here may go to upper OBC. Prevent cream layer formation when it comes to reservations. The targeted group must be given life opportunities by strengthening their social and economic rights.
Indian economy: India has a foreign exchange reserve of $405 billion, which is a cushion. With a size of $2.6 trillion, the Indian economy has overtaken France to become the sixth largest in the world and the third largest in terms of purchasing power parity.
India figures below the 10th rank in the list of major exporting countries. Global shares are much lower compared to China’s 13.2%. India’s share has been stagnating at 1.7% of global exports for quite some time now. India needs to change its market strategy and align with the current dynamics of global trade. Services export was rising during the period from 2003-2008, but now it has flattened. Global trade war will also affect India.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that the Indian economy will be affected by higher crude oil prices, the USA's interest rate hike, and trade war triggered by tit-for-tat tariff hikes. However, the IMF says India’s growth is expected to rise from 6.7% in 2017-18 to 7.3% in 2018-19 and 7.5% in 2019-20. India has a trade surplus of $24 billion with the USA.
The Indian Rupee has declined by 8% since the beginning of this year. FIIs have already pulled out Rs. 60,000 crore from Indian markets. External debt is mounting. Commercial borrowings have also increased. Short term trade credit has also increased in view of rising food price. Rupee may continue to depreciate.
Capitalism is being viewed with fear and distrust. Public sectors have failed miserably. We have to absorb the losses made over the years. As a result, every Indian will have to bear the cost of over Rs. 15 lakh. Performance, duty, and efficiency have not been achieved while wages have continued to rise irrespective of global competition.
Stressed Assets: The number of stressed SMEs is rising. One time settlement by the lenders will be more beneficial than the long drawn process of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC). The non-banking financial companies, asset management companies and others would like to have the stressed assets at lower prices and have good and reasonable returns. Most of steel companies like Jindal Steel, TISCO has started making profit. Sail had a loss of Rs. 4851 crore before extraordinary adjustment in 2016-17, while it has profit of Rs. 816 crore in quarter ending March 2018.
Stock Market: The Indian market may see a correction of 20% as it is facing both internal and external risks. Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) are reducing exposure to Indian companies across sectors. The prices of midcap and smallcap stocks have fallen beyond 50%-60% in some cases despite some stocks are rebounding again. Investors have lost their money. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is investigating the steep fall in some stocks. It is changing rules and regulations, which are not practical for the stock market and initial public offerings (IPOs). It has affected the market and also the investment sentiment. The SEBI takes a long time, sometimes a year, in approving an IPO even of a good and established company. It is making mobilisation of capital difficult and impossible. Banks are reluctant to sanction any commercial loan. The SEBI should strictly rein in the black sheep instead of making impractical rules and regulations that cause administrative delays and mobilization of capital difficult.
World economy: Global debt has increased to $247 trillion in the end of March 2018, which is 318% of global GDP. This has the making of a global credit bubble. Such high level of debt, especially when a global trend of financial tightening has set in, is worrying. It can have serious repercussions, more so on emerging markets.
The world may begin a new phase of global recession due to global trade war. The USA wants to protect its industries and employment, but some economists say that it will do more harm. Some of the steel items, which are being imported in the USA will lead to higher cost of production of the end products. Affected countries, the EU, Canada, India, Mexico and China have gradually started hitting back with retaliatory tariffs on US imports. India has also imposed tariffs on imports from the US. China has imposed tariffs on a number of items claiming to have a big saving. The US is having a trade deficit of $500 billion a year with Intellectual Property Theft of another $300 billion. The US President Donald Trump says he will not allow this to continue.
Handicrafts: From the Vedic times, India has had a glorious tradition of handicrafts. In rural India, it was a secondary occupation after agriculture. One yarn of cotton (muslin) was so thin and good that it could pass through a finger ring. This sector promotes art and culture and people have the opportunity to exhibit their talent and enterprise. Ajanta, Ellora caves in Maharastra, the Konark SunTemple in Odisha and many places in south India are hubs of the art and handicrafts. During the British Empire, modern manufacturing processes impacted handicrafts. For rural economy and employment, Mahatma Gandhi stressed on Charkha for the production of yarn and handlooms. There was a mass acceptance for the use of khadi as an alternative for the British machine-manufactured cloth and all the national leaders wore khadi clothes. Government has been promoting this sector. But the competition from other products has affected the production of khadi. This sector is unorganised and scattered. It is a great employment creator. It is also an important source of foreign exchange earnings. Handicraft exports from India have increased by 11.07% year-on-year during 2016 to March 2017. Indian handicrafts are exported to the top 10 destinations including the USA, the UK, the UAE, Germany, France, Latin America, Italy, Netherlands, Canada and Australia.
India is facing competition from China in respect of handicrafts. China is known the world over to be a handicrafts producing country. They are producing at a very cheap price and are dumping their products in the Indian market. Their products like deities of Ganesha, Laxmi and almost all the deities are being dumped in the market. So, the government has to make the domestic handicrafts industry competitive; restrictive taxes and other impediments to the sector need to be removed.
The government’s focus is on digitisation of business process regulations through self-attestations and certification, single window clearance, online approval, etc. GST has affected this sector as the cost of products has increased. It has become difficult for the artisans to comply with stringent rules and regulations.
It is hoped that government will understand the practical problems of this sector and make all efforts to boost the exports. With talented artisans, India can rank number one in the export of handicrafts.
May God bless Bharatwasis to work hard with devotion, righteously, fearlessly for the inclusive and sustainable growth.
Dr. H.P. Kanoria
Editor in chief
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