Why the world is watching India’s Budget

Today is an important day—not just for India, but for the entire world. Perhaps for the first time in many years, the entire globe will tune in when the Finance Minister of India presents her budget. India has earned a special place in the hearts of global citizens–we tugged at their heart strings even as […]

Today is an important day—not just for India, but for the entire world. Perhaps for the first time in many years, the entire globe will tune in when the Finance Minister of India presents her budget. India has earned a special place in the hearts of global citizens–we tugged at their heart strings even as we excited their brains that are wired for logic. We warmed their hearts not by just supplying vaccines, medicines to the world, but also by rescuing a distressed neighbour Sri Lanka with a USD 2.9 billion bailout package. Prime Minister Modi’s speeches embellished with “healing, harmony and hope” instill calm—especially in those seeking peace amidst growing unrest in the world. India not just touched the hearts, but appealed to the logic of many with her mature diplomatic posture over the Russia-Ukraine war—her unapologetic act in purchasing Russian oil notwithstanding pressure from the US kept India’s “people centric approach” under the arc lights. But apart from these traits, there is something more attractive to the world—India’s rising economic prowess. INDIA’S GROWTH Written off as “An epic story of wasted promise” during the late 1990s, India today is the world’s 5th largest economy—perhaps what fascinates economists and others is the fact that India was never discussed in the context of Asian Tiger economies (Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea) nor in the Asian Cub Economies like Indonesia Malaysia etc or for that matter as a part of the TIPS (Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore) Block. But India managed to break the “Economic Glass Ceiling” to become the 5th largest world economy racing ahead of UK. Today with the Presidency of G20—a group that controls 85% of world’s GDP—India has occupied the place it well deserves. Thanks to PM Modi’s “One Earth One Family One Future” vision, India is being seen as the voice of Global South too. INDIA AT DAVOS– WEF 2023 Davos has never been so cold and gloomy—this year the beauty of the Swiss Alps couldn’t mute the maudlin notes played by world leaders at the World Economic Forum. At the annual meet, The International Monetary Fund announced a high global growth contraction and that growth will slow to 2.7%. With negative growth for three largest economies — the United States, the European Union and China—the world is set for a “volatile” period economically, geopolitically and ecologically. But many wanted to hear the India story in Davos—its impressive economic growth rate, successful reforms, and increasing influence on the global market. The economic survey presented yesterday states that Indian economy is slated to grow at 6.8 %. Corporate balance sheets are healthy and the country received remittances amounting to US$ 100 billion in 2022. Indian economy underwent wide-ranging structural and governance reforms as a result, the Gross Non-Performing Assets declined and Labour markets have recovered beyond pre-COVID levels, in both urban and rural areas. India became a favored destination for renewables; investments in 7 years stand at USD 78.1 billion. Electronics exports rose threefold and India has become the secondlargest mobile phone manufacturer globally. FDI flows into the Pharma Industry have risen four times, from US$180 million to US $699 million in FY22. The futuristic government selected new-age sectors like Mobile Phones, Advance Chemistry Cell (ACC) batteries, high efficiency Solar PV Modules, Drones, Wearables, Semi-Conductors for giving incentives. These newage sectors would help India emerge as a manufacturing hub and a leader in Industry 4.0. This is just a snap shot. INDIA–A GREAT COLLABORATOR At Davos, IMF Chief Kristalina Georgieva advised the world leaders to be pragmatic and collaborate with one another. She emphasized that fragmentation can cost up to 7% of the global GDP. In her words “If we don’t unite now, we’ll face significant risk to the economy and people’s wellbeing”. India in the last 8 years under PM Modi has emerged as a great partner to many countries. It’s not just the vaccine supply or medicines but the way India stood by anyone in need. A case in point is Debtridden Sri Lanka. Recently the country thanked India for issuing the necessary guarantees sought by the IMF that would help Colombo to unlock the USD 2.9 billion bailout package. India became the first major lender to publicly back the island nation’s efforts to recover from its worst-ever economic crisis. Unlike the “Debt-trap Diplomacy” of China, India is being lauded for “Diplomacy for Co-Creation”. It’s important to recall that two countries in our neighbourhood, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, fell victim to massive Chinese debt- funded infrastructure projects, soon ran into economic crisis and are now embroiled in political turmoil. China played a sharp moneylender and when it saw the opportunity, preyed on those countries. India, on the contrary, has given grants or loan up to Rs 50,000 crore to countries that needed her support in the last 7 years. Merchandise trade between ASEAN and India has flourished in the recent past with exports rising by 23% and imports by 55%. For India, it’s always been a two way street. With “Human Centric” Governance, one will not be surprised if India offers to bail out Pakistan too. With a mere $4.5 billion in its kitty–$3 billion of which belongs to Saudi Arabia, the country is scouting for help but no country is ready to step-in. India’s succour, however, may be contingent on Pakistan’s policies–its ability to contribute to Global safety, security and stay clear off controversies. Today’s world places a high premium on practical solutions. No Hindenburg Report, a BBC story can shake the faith in a gigantic yet gentle power like India. Fake implants have no shelf life—they just irritate and vanish like seasonal allergy. Indian economy’s well-being is important for the world economy. Today’s India is an Island of calm and is a bankable asset for the world. Spinning wheels, juggling balls and walking the tight rope has become India’s forte–be it in navigating growth or foreign diplomacy. Such an act of supreme control is sure to draw a global audience on her budget day. Karuna Gopal Vartakavi is President, Foundation for Futuristic Cities, BJP National Incharge, Women Policies & Research.