The Congress on Friday cited the latest World Bank report, which estimated that around 5.6 crore Indians have been pushed into extreme poverty during the Covid-19 pandemic, and said the crisis was mismanaged by the Narendra Modi government as it sought to help the rich instead of the poor by ignoring all constructive suggestions.
Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said: “A report by the World Bank last (Thursday) evening has red-flagged the fact that nearly 5.6 crore Indians have been pushed into extreme poverty during the Covid pandemic. The World Bank has also for the third time cut the estimated GDP growth for India from 7.5 per cent to 6.5 per cent. This will mean higher joblessness and more poverty.”
Contending that the crisis is far deeper than the Word Bank assessment, Shrinate said: “Some economists believe that nearly 27-30 crore Indians were pushed into abject poverty during the pandemic. According to the Niti Aayog, on multi lateral-poverty index, nearly 25 per cent people in the country are poor. It was precisely due to the apprehension of rising poverty that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had said that money should be given directly to the poor so that they can continue to consume.”
Insisting that the situation would have definitely been better if the government paid heed to good advice, Shrinate said: “The World Bank’s decision to reduce India’s estimated GDP growth rate for the third time this year it is not in isolation, Moody’s, Fitch, Asian Development Bank among many others have similarly cut the forecast. Now, given the Modi government’s nature, it may be perceived as an international conspiracy against India and maybe Enforcement Directorate will be unleashed against the World Bank as well.”
The Congress spokesperson pointed to the other economic indicators that deepened worries — the rupee has hit a historic low of 82.33 to a dollar, $100 billion worth of forex reserves have been eroded since the beginning of this year, twin problems of current account deficit and fiscal deficit are looming large, trade deficit has doubled over the one-year period and exports have dipped by nearly 3.5per cent. She also flagged the possibility of the employment crisis deepening because of the shutdown of MSMEs.
Underscoring that high inflation under these circumstances was impacting the poor very badly, Shrinate said: “But Modi is hardly worried — he is still indulging in empty slogans and false promises. First aloo-sona and now lifting potatoes through drones is all that he is doing. Farmers are committing suicide citing PM’s inefficiency and apathy as the sole reason. When crude oil prices dipped, why have petrol and diesel prices not been brought down? Why have CNG and PNG prices been hiked?”
She added: “Fare has been increased for 130 trains. The prices of atta and milk are on fire. India ranks 101 on a list of 116 nations in hunger index. Why are 80 crore people in a country of 135 crore helpless to take free ration? Who has brought them to this stage? And of course, you deserve congratulations to have made Gautam Adani the second-richest individual in the world from his 643rd position when you came to office. If only you had paid a fraction of this attention to the poor, our people would not have struggled with abject poverty.”