Tuesday, 18 January, 2022
HomeThoughtShotCOVID-19: Kaushik Basu wants global 'task force’ & Bahar Dutt sees a...

COVID-19: Kaushik Basu wants global ‘task force’ & Bahar Dutt sees a silver lining

Today’s political, economic & strategic punditry from Kaushik Basu, Sajjid Z. Chinoy, Somasekhar Sundaresan and Arvind Panagariya.

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A COVID-19 control plan made simple
Dr. T. Jacob John | Retired doctor from CMC Vellore, is Chairman, Rotary Club of Vellore TB Control Society
The Hindu

John argues that the coronavirus “epidemic is more than a medical problem” and other “ministries such as those of travel, tourism, industry, education, economics, railways and local governments are all being affected”. He argues that although the minister of health is a key person in controlling the outbreak, the epidemic “requires responses of unprecedented speed, spread and magnitude” from all ministers and hence the Prime Minister should take leadership.

Turn the coronavirus crisis into an opportunity
Bahar Dutt | Award winning environment journalist and the author of Rewilding –India’s experiments in saving nature
Hindustan Times

Dutt argues that the coronavirus outbreak “is symptomatic of all that we have unleashed on our planet in the name of development.” She says Chinese “authorities banned consumption of wildlife meat” as “the coronavirus is believed to have originated from a wildlife food market” and it could have far reaching implications for the planet. She says the decision “could help the conservation of a number of species, in particular the pangolin that has been on the verge of extinction”.

Economic policy must account for varied effects of epidemics
Kaushik Basu | Professor of economics, Cornell University and non resident senior fellow, Brookings Institution
Mint

As the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on the world economy calls for a global response, Basu recommends either the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund create a C20 “a task force” of 20 economists with “diverse specialties, as well as experts in health and geopolitics”. They should analyse the crisis and come up with a “coordinated global policy response on a tight deadline”, he writes.

Corona, crude and credit
Sajjid Z. Chinoy | Chief India economist at JP Morgan
The Indian Express

Chinoy comments on the macroeconomic shocks due to the coronavirus outbreak, the oil price fall and the Yes Bank crises. He argues the coronavirus created twin shocks of demand and supply. “As the coronavirus proliferates globally, households and businesses are understandably becoming risk averse” leading to a decline in global demand and “a negative supply shock” is emanating from China, he notes. These shocks are coming at a time when the economy is already slow and the Yes Bank crisis is creating a credit shock on top of everything. He says the oil price shock may help the Indian economy as “the near $30/barrel decline since January constitutes a large positive in terms of trade shock for India — equivalent to about 1.3 per cent of GDP even accounting for reduced remittances from the Middle East”.

A silver lining for oil price war
Pravakar Sahoo | Professor, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi
Bhavesh Garg | Faculty, IIT Ropar
Financial Express

Garg and Sahoo point out that the fall in oil prices indicates “a gloomy world economy” but it’s “a blessing in disguise for the Indian economy, which is currently grappling with severe slowdown and seeks a quick turnaround”. They note, “the current fall in crude price impacts the Indian economy positively—through its macroeconomic effect on trade balance, fiscal balance, domestic inflation, exchange rate, capital flows and overall growth”.

Scindia is only a symptom
Suhas Palshikar | Chief editor of ‘Studies in Indian Politics’
The Indian Express

Palshikar argues that the “short and crisp resignation letter by Scindia is instructively symptomatic of our contemporary politics”, which “is absolutely short on questions of ideology and frankly articulate about the nature of politics being pursued”. He argues that the lack of ideology is not just evident in Scindia but in several political actors today. He warns that “it is this non-ideological character of most parties that allows their workers or leaders to join the BJP without engaging with the question of what the BJP stands for and how they can reconcile their own ideological predilection with that of the BJP”.

Enforcement action or shoot at sight?
Somasekhar Sundaresan | Advocate and an independent counsel
Business Standard

Sundaresan criticises the “standard operating procedure” issued by the Ministry of Co­rporate Affairs (MCA). The procedure directs “that legal proceedings for non-co­m­pliance with company law must not be routinely taken up against independent directors and non-executive directors”, he explains and is termed a “clarification”. However, Sundaresan notes, this is more a reiteration of the law in the 1990s than a “clarification” and the fact that the written law needed to be reiterated “tells a story of a breakdown in the enforcement machinery”.

MSMEs need cash-flow based financing
B. Yerram Raju | Author of ‘The Story of Indian MSMEs’
The Hindu Business Line

For financing MSMEs, Raju discusses loans backed by a firm’s “expected cash-flow” as opposed to asset-backed credit. He points out that this may be tricky as MSMEs don’t always have “uniform cash-flow throughout the year”. However, if the model is lend-based, banks “should spend more time with the entrepreneur” and understand their business. Unfortunately, banks “don’t have the wherewithal to do this now” and RBI’s efforts towards a Public Credit Registry doesn’t look like much help either.

Fight the battle of the bulge
Edited extract from his new book, ‘India Unlimited: Reclaiming the Lost Glory’
Arvind Panagariya |The Economic Times Professor of economics, Columbia University, US
Economic Times

Panagariya points out that India has “far too many ministries”, 53 to be precise. There are three reasons why this is “detrimental to governance” — one, it means more ministries will compete for how much they get to spend; two, it “slows down the decision-making process in the government” and three, “more ministries aid mission creep in administration” and the government gets involved in sectors that should be off-limits to it.

Today’s Editorials

The Indian Express: The coronavirus crisis requires the best minds to come together and discuss the preventive measures and steps to be taken. But this is exactly what the COVID-19 is preventing, says Express. Many international conferences have been postponed. In that case, the ostrich approach, where people refuse to believe the reality of a situation, could well pay off, the daily writes.

Hindustan Times: Jyotiraditya Scindia’s decision to quit Congress is a telling comment on the drift in the Congress, where uncertainty over leadership, organisational disarray and the absence of a roadmap have created a crisis, writes HT. The party is unable to accommodate the aspirations of young leaders, and many such leaders are seeing their most important political years being wasted. If the party doesn’t take Scindia’s exit seriously, it will sink into a deeper crisis, the daily warns.

The Times of India: The daily comments on Allahabad High Court’s ruling upholding the right to privacy in the response to UP government putting posters of those allegedly involved in vandalism during anti-CAA protests. The order indicates that government orders cannot sidestep fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. The Allahabad HC did well to act on its own to uphold this right in the face of a violation by the state, writes TOI.

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