THE THING ABOUT TROUBLE
“The resignation of Jyotiraditya Scindia should serve as a clarion call for Congress to wake from its stupor and resolve its leadership and organisational issues”
By SUNJOY HANS
They say trouble comes in all shapes and sizes – and often when it comes, it comes from all directions. At present, the biggest trouble with the world seems to be the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), which has officially been declared a global pandemic having infected nearly 1.25 lakh people and claimed more than 4,700 lives so far with no cure in sight yet.
Compared to China, Italy and Iran and a few others which have suffered thousands of COVID-19 cases and hundreds of deaths thereof, India has been relatively lucky to have seen fewer than a hundred cases and only a couple of deaths from those so far – especially considering its high population and population density.
However, for those very reasons, along with an acutely under-resourced healthcare system, India is one of the most vulnerable countries to a COVID-19 outbreak. While the government has taken a lot of steps to prevent that from happening, only time will tell whether those were enough.
The country has been suffering from its worst economic slowdown in a decade. Just when one thought things could not get any worse, along came the deadly virus that now threatens to cut the global GDP growth rate by as much as 50 per cent. There is no telling the magnitude of the impact of such a global slowdown on India’s stuttering economy.
Even if such a worst-case scenario does not come to pass, the Narendra Modi government will have its hands full either way.
The fate that Yes Bank met with recently is nothing but a terrible symptom of the deeper malaise that has been afflicting the Indian financial sector. In the very least, it should serve as the final clarion call for the government to clean up the banking sector in which customer confidence has been at an all-time low thanks to reasons ranging from bad loans to lousy governance. Unless that happens, as former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan rightly pointed out recently, credit growth will remain weak and no amount of interest rate cuts will put the economy back on track.
Similarly, the resignation of Jyotiraditya Scindia should also serve as a clarion call for Congress to wake from its stupor and resolve its chronic leadership and organisational issues if it wants to survive as a national-level party.
In sharp contrast stands the Biju Janata Dal in Odisha. The party has no real leadership or organisational issues to worry about what with the presence of five-time Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who was recently re-elected as its president for the eighth straight time. Yet the recent appointment of Pranab Prakash Das as the first organisational secretary of the BJD serves as a glorious example of how Naveen Babu is constantly – and smartly – ringing in changes to improve his administration for the benefit of not only his state and its people but also his party.
Being the Chief Minister of Odisha for 20 years, and counting, he perhaps knows all too well that being proactive and pre-emptive is the best way to keep trouble at bay.