ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Green, but Not So Green

The pandemic, the climate crisis, and crisis in agriculture call for sustainable solutions, which are acknowledged by NITI Aayog, but did not find a thrust in the budget. A positive growth in agriculture during the pandemic shows its resilience, but it is intriguing that food inflation remained high and its possible link with the three farm produce laws should not be overlooked. It is worrying that crop loans for input-intensive production are non-serviceable.

Union Budget 2021–22

High deficit has no fiscal costs if it can be substantiated with increased public investment or “output gap” reduction. When the monetary policy stance has limitations in triggering growth through liquidity infusion and the status quo policy rates, “fiscal dominance” is crucial for sustained growth recovery.

A Budget for Pandemic Times

The budget for 2021–22 is important for three reasons. First, it provides a reality check on the government’s attempt to keep up public spending in the wake of severe contraction in revenues and expansion in expenditures needed to save lives and livelihoods. Second, it shows the large increases in deficits and debt in the already prevailing stressed fiscal environment. Third, as the economy was already slowing down even before the pandemic due to structural factors, it attempts to provide reform signals to reclaim the earlier growth trajectory. While it has tried to prioritise growth, there is considerable risk from burgeoning deficits and the possible impact in price stability from large liquidity infusion to facilitate government borrowing at low cost that is likely to occur. The reform proposals are important, but the test lies in how effectively they are implemented.

Fiscal Policy and Growth in a Post-COVID-19 World

Why was India’s growth slowing in the run-up to COVID-19 and how much fiscal space was used to stem the slowdown? What is the nature of India’s economic recovery from COVID-19? How does the budget seek to balance fiscal support while reducing the deficit? What was the underlying fiscal impulse in the COVID-19 year and what is it budgeted to be next year? What are the implications for debt sustainability and fiscal–monetary coordination? Finally, what are some paradigm changes the budget seeks to embark on and why is execution so crucial this time? This essay seeks to answer these questions to make sense of growth and fiscal dynamics in a post-COVID-19 world.

Untangling Policy Mishaps

A number of economic and health policies adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic have been rendered partially or fully ineffective due to offsetting actions from private individuals, resulting in policy mishaps. This article demonstrates that these policy mishaps are the result of not one, but several types of policy conundrums entangled with one another, creating a complex policy challenge. It also provides a sketch of what a comprehensive policy package should look like.

Mental Justice of the NT-DNTs in Context of the Pandemic

Mental justice of Nomadic and Denotified Tribes (NT-DNTs) should be the most important aspect of their overall access to social justice. Mental health needs to be redefined as a justice issue, especially in the context of marginalised communities. The NT-DNTs being perhaps one of the earliest communities worldwide to be criminalised for dissenting, the ramifications have acutely affected their mental justice over the last 150 years. This has worsened during the current pandemic. The article puts forth recommendations for the mental and therefore overall justice of NT-DNTs.

Opening Up Tennis

What was the silver lining to the COVID-19-ridden US Open last year?

The Challenge of LDC Debt

A challenge set by the Covid-19-induced economic crisis that would be difficult to address is the external debt crisis engulfing developing countries. While the G-20 with its Debt Service Suspension Initiative appeared to recognise the problem, the evidence indicates that the international community is unwilling to do what is needed. There are enough proposals on the table, but inadequate commitment among those sitting around it.

Restricting Third Country Imports

The Government of India has rolled out new rules to restrict third country imports routed through free trade agreement partners for availing preferential tariff benefits. However, the regulatory and compliance-related burdens of the new rules will burden both import-dependent and value chain led export-oriented sectors, and make them uncompetitive in global markets.

Is Borrowing Relief Ending Too Soon?

The Reserve Bank of India’s loan repayment moratorium, announced at the end of March 2020 and extended to 31 August 2020, was conceptualised and implemented as a COVID-19 crisis-response measure. While the moratorium ended, the crisis has not. Findings from a survey of 1,452 rural microfinance clients in Maharashtra, conducted in July–August 2020, show that a critical majority of borrowers continue to experience significant income deficits, and will not be in a position to service their debts for the foreseeable future.

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