05/14/2020, 16.15
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Coronavirus: Modi's economic plan offers nothing to millions of poor people

by Biju Veticad

The US6-billion stimulus package leaves out the poorest 130 million Indians, as well as internal migrants who lost their job. Unemployment is also rising because of Indian workers returning from the Persian Gulf. The self-sufficiency sought by Modi is likely to irritate foreign investors.

Delhi (AsiaNews) – Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US6-billion stimulus package, which was unveiled on Tuesday, offers nothing to India’s poor.

Under the plan, the government is opening a US billion line of credit for small- and medium-sized businesses. There is nothing however by way of cash transfer to the bottom half of the population beyond 130 million Indians.  

Internal migrants who lost their jobs because of social confinement and the economic lockdown decreed by the government on 25 March are not included.

Thousands of migrants are still on the road trying to go back to their home states, some forced to walk a thousand of kilometres before reaching their families.

Meanwhile, unemployment is on the rise (23.5 per cent in April), made worse by Indian migrants returning from the Persian Gulf.

For a few million women, there is only a subsidy of 1,000 rupees (US), divided into two transfers.

Modi said that the stimulus package is equivalent to 10 per cent of GDP, and is aimed at stimulating employment and save the businesses negatively impacted by the lockdown.

For West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Modi is misrepresenting the actual size of the stimulus.

She notes that the package includes resources already allocated in previous months under different items. In her view, the measures undertaken will not lead to economic recovery and job creation.

For his part, Modi wants to use the COVID-19 crisis to create a "self-sufficient" country (Atma Nirbhara India). To this end, the Home Affairs Minister has already announced that military canteens will only sell made-in-India products as of 1 June.

The stimulus also bans foreign companies from bidding in public tenders under US million, affecting especially Chinese companies that dominate the Indian market with their cheap products.

The insistence on protecting local production could however spoil relations between India and foreign investors.

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