02:32 GMT30 November 2020
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    The Indian government has announced total stimulus worth $298 billion since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. The Indian Finance Ministry recently said that the government is working on additional stimulus measures.

    Former Indian Finance Minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram has slammed the Narendra Modi government's handling of the economy amid the COVID pandemic. Urging the chiefs of the country's financial regulators and top bureaucrats to reveal the actual situation, Chidambaram said the "vast majority of people do not have money" due to job losses and surging unemployment in the country.

    Calling it "intriguing" that RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das, Sebi chairman Ajay Tyagi, and Economic Affairs Secretary Tarun Bajaj spoke about economic revival on the same day, Chidambaram said, "All three have tried to 'talk up' the economy. I wish the economy was a circus lion that would respond to the stick of the ringmaster!"

    In separate events on Wednesday, Das, Tyagi, and Bajaj had maintained that revival in the Indian economy is visible. Secretary Bajaj also underlined that the Indian government is working on additional stimulus measures.    

    "The economy is largely determined by the market, by the laws of demand and supply, and by the purchasing power and sentiments of the people", underscored Chidambaram in a series of tweets on the Indian economy.

    Then he offered advice for the chiefs of India’s leading institutions. "The three distinguished men should tell the finance minister, in unison, that the vast majority of the people do not have the money or the inclination to buy goods and services. Unless the government puts money in the hands of the bottom half of the families and puts food on the plates of the poor, the economy will not revive smartly".

    Asking the government to verify his claim in the poll-bound Indian state of Bihar where people are facing existential challenges, Chidambaram said: "If you doubt what I say, just listen to the voices of the voters of Bihar on their existential crisis — no work or not enough work, no income or little income, and their thoughts are on surviving, not on spending".

    As an impact of the pandemic, the Indian economy plummeted in April-June this year, with gross domestic product contracting by 23.9 percent compared with the same period the previous year. Global agencies have predicted that India will witness a recession in the current financial year (April 2020 – March 2021). The World Bank said India’s GDP is expected to contract by 9.6 percent in the current financial year due to the "national lockdown and pandemic shock".

    The unemployment rate in India rose to 23.5 percent in April 2020 from 7.2 percent in February 2019, the highest since September 2016, according to a survey conducted by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).


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