By Krishna Jha
When the rivers in the country began swelling with corpses, they got buried in the shallow sand graves. Soon in the strong wind, sand moved and then came the thieves who took away the last sheet. In the glaring sun they all lay exposed. We all have lost our voices, and stare at the calamity that has befallen us. The dead have lost count, they remain unsighted, innumerable. They are among those for whom no report speaks. In death also they are excess in the society.
Andhra Pradesh saw 27,100 deaths over and above the average deaths in May, 2018 and May 2019. In May 2021, the state saw around 130,000 excess deaths. This “excess death” figure was nearly 34 times the official Covid death toll for the same period according to the data provided by Civil Registration system (CRS).
Madhya Pradesh was even worse. The “excess death” figure was nearly 42 times the reported covid death toll for the same period.
These facts could not be shoved under carpet for long. Status of excess was soon brought in broad day light. It was media that did the job. It went beyond the country. The Economist, with its analysis, and keeping the rate at five to six times, brought it in the open.
Then come the measures for vaccination, the only way till now to shield against the death wave. According to reports, it is easier to become Covid 19 victim, than to get vaccinated. More so for the common masses. Hurdles are many, as the process to get registered is digitalized, after which the code is sent online. But among the deprived, there is hardly anyone possessing a mobile. To afford an android is a luxury for those who can have hardly two meals a day. In financial year 2020, the rate of smart phone holders in India was 42 per cent and around 685 million do not have any facility to avail the services of the internet.
Then about the hinterlands. The rural population reaching out to digital facility is next to impossible. The long stretches of villages and their inhabitants live on the other side of the wall, vulnerable, invisible. For them even Covid test is a distant possibility. A doctor in a far off region of Uttar Pradesh said, “We don’t know how to get rid of epidemic here, people are dying every day. No arrangement for oxygen has been made.”
Everywhere it is the rule of decay that prevails. Image of India and its governance stand in the glare of account taking. The down sliding does not go unnoticed.
Former RBI Governor D Subbarao has expressed his worries over the ever growing unevenness in the economic recovery that helps grow inequalities. The canyon formed with the rush of growing deprivation keeps widening the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have not’. There is hardly any job possibility. If at all there is an opening, even though it is only for a very short while, the wage is not enough even for bare survival. The country is reeling under hunger, epidemic and absence of sustenance. The resources are drying up for the common masses that include not only those at the lowest strata, but also the lower as well as the middle. Joblessness keeps eroding the quality of life. One month average unemployment rate that rose to 13 per cent according to CMIE data on June 6, 2021 from 11.9 in May. By the end of the month, the country stands scantily employed with harsh deprivations.
So far as country’s rate of GDP growth is concerned, in the January to March FYQ it was stuck at 1.6 per cent. There is also a widening gap between the upper income segments and lower income households in the country. The number of billionaires has gone up accentuating a negative trend hitting all growth prospects for going forward. It was termed as “Morally wrong and politically corrosive”. The destructive impact of Covid 19 is already having its effect in deepening the crisis, while all the domestic liquidity and foreign fund inflows are pushing up stocks and other assets eroding all possibilities for investment and production.
As regards bad loans, our banks have written off the debt of 1.53 lakh crore to show reduction in the non-performing assets, especially in their books. But this writing off is not the only one, it is the second biggest write off in a financial year after 2018-19’s record Rs 2.54 lakh crore. It was Rs 1.45 lakh crore in 2019-20 and Rs 1.44 lakh crore in 2017-18, mostly, corporate loans.
The recoveries are facing fall too in addition. Bank of India faced 37 per cent fall in 2020-21. After Rs 89,000 crore is transferred from 22 stressed accounts to the proposed National Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd, NPA figures will fall by the end of FY21, but the banking system stress would remain stressed. To facilitate the free flow of finance, a process of disinvestment has also been initiated. There is a cabinet note issued for hundred percent FDI in BPCL disinvestment. The proposal if approved would facilitate privatization of India’s second biggest oil refinery. The government is selling its entire 52.98 per cent stake in the company. (IPA Service)