Welfare State and The Consumption Story of India – 3
(Image used for illustrative purpose only)
India as a welfare state has gone through a sea-change since Independence in 1947. The policy makers of the country have done a great job indeed. The ‘Temples of Growth’ such has Dams, Electricity, Highways, Railroads, Banking, Hospitals, etc. were created at the beginning. Then came the green revolution, cars, consumer goods, etc. The State ran utilities, travel, fuel marketing, banking, insurance, mining, global trade through Public Sector Enterprises as these needed huge investments which could not be made by private sector. The socialist overhang helped. The nation with several cultural, religious, political, etc. complexities has not lost sight on its economic growth. Somehow, I feel, that the policy makers knew that escape from majority of such problems will be through economic growth. Take care of your hungry citizens and the nation will take care of itself. What a foresight!
Today, India is turning a new leaf. Thanks to a decent infrastructure base created earlier, it is now ranked as among the fastest growing economies in world. But her policy makers are busy thinking even further. MNREGA, over 280 million Jan Dhan bank accounts, initiatives like Make in India, Digital India, etc., Missions like Housing for All By 2022, Insurance and Pension for the Poor, Smart Cities, Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, Heritage City Development and Augmentation, National Urban Housing, Sustainable Habitat, Clean India, etc., are all work-in-progress currently. Their impact, in long term, is likely to be tremendous.
Even a partial achievement of their objectives will put in a lot of money into the wallets of Indians. Fatter wallets will mean more spending, thus fuelling the cart of growth further.
The spending will manifest into a higher consumption of automobiles, banks, cement, real estate, consumer durables, FMCG, fertilizers, finance, natural gas, healthcare services, hotels, media & entertainment, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, retailing, telecom, textiles, textiles and transportation. A poor Indian was always considered dangerous. A moneyed Indian will quite be a deadly beast. Disruptive. We already have Indian as a richest Asian!
Welfare to Indians no longer means setting up infrastructure, as it once did, for better living through Roti, Kapda, Makaan. It does not even mean infrastructure for Bijli, Paani, Sadak. Today, it has taken the shape of giving newer avenues to grow richer. Ofcourse, the effort of seven decades in social reengineering and bringing the deprived sections of society into the national mainstream is paying dividends too. But have never seen so many political parties clamouring for Vikas as their plank. Everyone seem to have realised that Vikas (growth) is stronger a promise than secularism, socialism, caste, religion, regional pride, etc.
Today welfare and economic growth nearly means the same. Vikas essentially means the more amount I am likely to have and spend or invest.