Inflation is India’s biggest problem now (apart from corruption, scams, parliamentary standoffs, corporate governance). Of course every emerging country has to go through this phase once in its growth phase. Theoretically, some proportion of inflation is necessary for the country to grow. But the problem begins when the inflation is uncontrolled and disproportionate. Let’s look at actions Government of India is taking: The Reserve Bank of India is increasing benchmark rates quarter after quarter making credit expensive assuming that this will control the demand and hence inflation
The Indian government claims that inflation is being tackled after the recent report (July 2011) showed that the inflation was marginally better than expected levels. (that too because of high base effect of 2004-05 prices). But the real problem is not getting solved!
What will happen if you take medicine for malaria when you are suffering from jaundice?
This is exactly the situation we’re into. Let’s break the inflation: The food articles price index grew by 39% in last two years. Processed food and food grains have grown by 19% each. On the flip side, fuel and manufacturing prices grew with 11% and 9% respectively.
If we break the overall bank credit: Credit for food grains is around 1% of total direct agricultural credit which itself turn is 10% of overall credit. Indian agriculture depends on informal credit, money lenders and self finance to a large extent. What effect will monetary tightening will have over this? Nothing
Monetary tightening if continued for a long-time can reverse India’s growth story. Recent economic data indicates country’s gross domestic product growth had slowed, as companies spent less, foreign investment dropped and bad loans piled up at some banks.
So how can we tackle it?
– Work on the real determinants of food prices like Minimum support price (MSP), Public distribution system (PDS) prices, over injection of money into the system with employment schemes as NREGA
– Expediting the multi-brand retail FDI proposal which will improve supply chain constraints and reduce losses due to wastage (another issue India’s agricultural supply chain is infamous for).
– Solving infrastructure issues with the funds already raised by the government issuing bonds. Better infrastructure will to contribute in improving supply-side bottlenecks
– Developing energy resources, oil exploration practices and aiming for reduction in energy deficit
The government’s victory in 2009 was based on changed agenda to address issues like banking regulation, land acquisition and pension reforms. However, things have just worsened post that. It is high time, we tackle inflation. Let’s hope its India Shining and NOT India Shinning!