Storms tend to have names these days. After a bit of wavering, this one was named, simply, Covid. A monster that switched off headlights all over the world, the Modi government wasn't even a year into term two when it struck. The health emergency was so acute and all-pervasive that it became, inevitably, the defining economic event of Modi 2.0 The lockdowns shuttered all activity but for those to do with bare existence. The economy plunged into negative growth for two straight quarters in 2020: sector after sector asphyxi- ated. It was a complex riddle. How to ease the immediate misery? And craft policies to cure India of `economic long Co- vid'? Such doom and gloom--an inertia of negative momen- tum--had every chance of lingering. Could one try rebound- ing to a better place than status quo ante? The economy, after all, had been sluggish for many pre-Covid quarters. The Opposition and some economists pressed the Centre to loosen its purse-strings and offer cash relief to citizens, as the US and Europe were doing. Amid massive loss of life and livelihoods, it seemed the self-evident thing to do. But the Modi government went against the tide and chose instead to announce, in May 2020, the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan--encouraging the citizenry to move towards selfreliance. Was that landscape of misery the right time and place to try and awaken the animal spirits of the nation? You could argue back and forth in hindsight, but there was no swaying the Modi regime from its avowed aim of not handing out dole. It decided to put the money--an outlay of Rs 27.1 lakh crore--into bolstering businesses and infrastructure. It preferred money to do some good hard work. Like a lifesaving drug with a sustained-release mechanism, having a real cumulative impact on growth, rather than a shallow and
BOLD AND BRAVE
Faced with a polycrisis, Narendra Modi
pushed through daring reforms to
weather the storm. but the challenge
is to stay the course prime minister Narendra Modi's penchant for alliteration is well-known. Among his favourites is 2S: Speed and Scale. He is fond of saying that if the previous governments thought speed was a luxury and scale a risk, he as prime minister made speed the ambition of India and scale its strength. Modi has demonstrated these qualities in ample measure in almost everything he has achieved in his nine years of office and more so in the four years of his second term. The most recent example of this is the swank, state-of-theart, hexagonal new Parliament building that he inaugurated on May 28. The complex came up at a remarkable speed, taking just two and a half years for completion despite Covid restrictions kicking in almost from the start. Then there is the scale. The new building has a seating capacity of 1,272
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