Friday, March 5, 2021

Dying economy

It is a fact that our economy is dying silently, with far-reaching long term negative impacts. But why is our economy dying? Because it has been slowly made to bleed to death! The subsidy culture was the first wound given to the local self-sufficient economy at least in food related items. There are no two opinions that agriculture has always been the real backbone of our economy for decades. According to those in Government, even at present around 80% of the population consists of farmers. Unfortunately, over the years instead of progressing, this sector has been rather dwindling and we are at a juncture when we depend on imports for most of our agriculture based products! While on one hand most of the agricultural products and the people engaged in producing these have been declining over a period of time, on the other the only thing which has grown geometrically are the Government employees! A sizeable chunk of the State budget goes into the salaries of these employees. Unfortunately, over a period of time we have depleted slowly the dignity of manual labour and created a mind-set of white collar jobs among our youth. Today thousands youth are educated but unemployed. Most are waiting for the white-collar Government jobs even at the lowest level. This is the greatest disservice that has been done to our society by our rulers for the last 4-5 decades or so! This mentality has to change. The other unproductive expenditure specially incurred is the construction boom in bungalows and villas. Over the past few years many posh houses care being constructed across the length and breadth of the State, with Kohima and Dimapur topping the list. This is totally dead investment. The same money could have been invested in various local enterprises especially in agriculture based industries. Of late tourism is slowly but wrongly being propagated as the panacea to all our economic woes. Yes, if things were peaceful, and we had the infrastructure and have direct international air access, we could have become a tourist destination and have a booming tourism sector. But all this are not so. Again the massive investment in this sector, particularly the Hornbill Festival and Mini-Hornbills over the years, has become dead investment. Moreover, because of total dependence on imports regarding various inputs in the sector, tourism does not have a multiplier effect here. It is estimated that the multiplier effect in Indian conditions is about 3.5 which means a single rupee invested in tourism is equivalent to Rs 3.5 invested in other sectors. But this does not hold here in our State as most of the inputs in this sector are imported from outside the State which makes tourism earnings to have a quick exit providing only seasonal jobs to the locals. Another of our sheepish mentality is construction of shopping complexes everywhere. Instead of investing money in making goods which could be locally used and could lessen imports of these, people have virtually gone crazy in making shopping complexes to sell goods from all over the world. Totally consumer based economy without any attempt to produce these goods especially in the food chain locally. But above everything else, the local economy faces another serious handicap and that is the most undependable roads, particularly the Dimapur-Kohima highway. In fact if the State economy is to stabilize and grow, two things are most essential. First is the return to agriculture based economy and the other is dependable roads. Over the years and decades, State governments of all the political parties have given least interest in creating an independent economy. They have mostly been busy in improving their own and their family’s economic well-being at the cost of the common people. If the economy is to survive and progress then private and enterprising initiatives has to be encouraged and multiplied manifold. The civil society has to wake up and take initiative in this regard. In the alternative, our economy is destined to bleed to death!