January 16th, 2009
Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister &
Minister for Finance
Government of India
Subject: Economic policies and the current turmoil- Recommendations
I am writing this letter to draw your attention to the issues affecting the nation and some practical solutions
On the outset, I wish to place it on record that I am neither a world renowned Economist nor a Nobel Laureate but have spend 12 successful years at the helm of many corporate companies more so because of my approach rather than some other qualification. As an ever lasting student of the corporate world, my focus has been on constant innovations and prioritizations in order to simplify complex situations and search for practical, achievable and sustainable solutions. The spirit and essence of this communiqué flow from these thoughts.
and trust me, if you follow my advice, we can certainly come out of the recession faster and emerge stronger. There are lessons to be learned to make India stronger
Let me clear you that India is in a recession and that we are headed for a severe recession if we don’t take immediate steps. I wish to quote you the following data to enlighten you about the same.
• Exports :According to the President ,Federation of Indian Export Organizations ( FIEO), Mr.A.Sakthvel, 2009 is going to be the worst year in history and the Indian Exporters may cut 10 million jobs by March as the orders are drying up
• Slow down in the leather industry is likely to axe 5 lakh workers in leather units in the next three to four months with worsening market scenario in US and Europe . The industry employs almost 2.5 million people. Ref: The Economic Times dated Jan 2009.
• Tax Collections :The Tax collections for December quarter dropped by 22 % ( Ref: The Economic Times dated 27th Dec 2008 )
• Corporate – Domestic slowdown Net profit of India Inc. likely to decline by almost 46 % in the 3rd Quarter of third fiscal .Ref: The Economic Times dated 28th Dec 08.
• The private sector abandoned projects worth 44 billion in the third quarter of 2008
• Insurance Sector April to Nov 08 , the insurer’s first premium income and number of policies sold were down by 14 % – Ref : The Economic Times dated 3rd Jan 2009
• Banking SectorFor a leading private bank , between Nov and Dec 08 the credit card delinquency increased to 26 %
• The gross NPA’s of banks will reach 4.7 % of the total loans in FY10 from the current of 2.3 %. Credit card delinquency has gone up to as high as 14 %. Loan defaults would follow shortly and this will be a big blow to the banking / loan system. In the first half of Dec 2008, in Bangalore itself there have been defaults to the tune of Rs.80.23 crore at Corporation Bank . Out of the total home loan portfolio exposure of Rs.1000 cr , 50 % is in the IT sector. Defaults will start increase going forward. We will see the real impact in April 09.
• Aviation Sector Jet airways and Jet lite have defaulted in payments of Rs. 32.78 Cr to AAI TOI 29th Dec 08. Airline industry is expected be in deep red this year
• Hospitality Sector The hotel occupancy has dropped by 50 %. Ref : The Economic Times dated 28th Dec 2008
• Diamond Sector 60 % of the 8000 units into diamond polishing and cutting business went on forced holiday leaving 100,000 people without jobs. (Times of India 27th Dec 2008). There is a 40 % reduction in demand according to Gems and Jewellery Promotion Council (GJEPC). Exports account for $ 20 billion in the industry. Ref: The Economic Times dated 28th Dec 2008
• Auto & transport Sector Approx 90 % of all the commercial vehicles sold in India is via loans. Kotak Mahindra Bank has repossessed about 200 vehicles. Deepak Sachdeva, President of the Delhi Goods Transport association said that between April and Dec alone, close to 158000 commercial vehicles were either surrendered or repossessed due to loan defaults. Ref The Mint – Wall street Journal dated Dec 26th 2008
• IT sector is likely to lay off 50,000 people in the next 6 months. Already layoffs are happening across sectors
Let’s look back as to why we have had a problem ? We built an economy on dollars, FDI and stock market and not on 600 million people who live on 2.5 USD a day. We have tried to compete with China or serve the developed world. The outsourcing business is not build on merits other than low costs of human capital. We don’t have a lasting story if we bank on cheap labour only!! We need to capitalize on our resources internally and not become a body shopping country. But till now, we have let others capitalize on our strengths. You will have to change this. Common minimum programme has to be Common man’s programme
India has always been a land of ‘Rishi’ and ‘Krishi’. We forgot this aspect of India. We still have not done much for the farmers of this nation. We know for sure that 18 % of the GDP (agriculture) supports 60 % of the population. Kamal Nath believes that this might not be possible. I must correct him. What we need is value addition to agriculture and connecting the value chain of agriculture business to farmers at the place of produce. We need to think more about farmers producing cash crops besides staple crop. We need to increase the value of 18 %. We must note that 80 % farms in India are smaller than 5 acres. From 1971-96, the average size of the farms has reduced from 2.3 to 1.4 acres. Whilst, in the developing countries the average farm size has decreased, same has increased in developed world.
Having given the above mentioned data let me inform you that in abnormally tough times you cannot take routine decisions. Baby steps would not help. Severe crisis needs several big interventions. You need to take drastic steps. Some of which i am putting for your immediate consideration
Just lowering the interest rate or some small duty cuts would not raise the morale of the countrymen. This is a crisis of comfort and confidence both. You are testing waters by lowering the rates in monthly reviews and at intervals. Not realising that that these SOPS in instalments are deteriorating the economy and the morale of the people is suffering as time is passing. We are drifting in the ‘quick sand of recession’. Please consider, people do not buy because a particular product or service is cheap. But the buying decision is dependent on certainty of income and availability of cheap capital coupled with host of other social and market factors. Seeing what is happening in the country, i don’t see a positive mood till you take drastic steps like,
1. Replace the portfolio of Minister of Finance with the Minister for economic development
2. Have a dedicated secretariat to monitor the economic indicators and look to prevent surprises and signal disasters much in advance- in short to do a overall risk assessment across sectors in the economy. They should have no other job than to forecast and warn against the impending threats to the economic growth
3. Have a dedicated minister for modern agriculture practices
4. Dedicate a separate ministries for each innovation ,poverty alleviation and PPP- Public Private partnerships . PPP must be encouraged in all sectors
5. Economic policies should be more inward looking than foreign dependent
6. Tax rates must be reduced for individuals in one go and in a massive manner and not in instalments
7. Fuel rates should be reduced immediately and be made market driven
8. We need to focus and take immediate steps for setting up Agri and processed foods SEZ on an urgent basis.
9. Announce incentives for organic farming.
10. Announce incentives for tourism
11. Government must give big push to vocational training and employment for students
12. Increase recruitment for teachers , police and other government staff
13. Scholarships for education and R&D must be given
14. Lower the bank interest rates for corporate lending to around 9 % at one go.
15. Home loan rates be immediately reduced to 7.5 % for amount up to Rs. 5 lac, 8 % above 5 Lac till 20 Lac, 8.5 % for amount above Rs. 20 lac till Rs.50 Lac and 9 % for amounts above Rs. 50 Lac. The customers must be allowed to get these at fixed rates and not floating rates for a period of 20 years. Construction boom will increase activity in a lot of infrastructure industries like construction workers, cement, iron and steel and paints etc. which will add to the economy in a big way. All these must be lowered in one go rather in instalments
16. While you give incentives to the infrastructure , you must appoint a housing regulator to bring in confidence of a fair play amongst the investors
17. Government must build houses for weakest sections of the society to be leased on rentals and not be sold
18. Banks must be mandated for giving loans to students for vocational courses without any guarantor .This will lead to enhancement of skills and employment and the loan amounts will be small. Plus the bank will secure the loans as the students cannot get the job without clearance from banks !! So safer loans. People can earn and pay along
19. IT sector must focus on agriculture sector & education– This one step will take India to a better placed economy
20. Big corporates must be mandated to outsource 2.5 % of their requirement to SSI (Small scale industries).
21. Encourage Small scale industries and incentivise them by making them tax free for 3 years
22. SSI based SEZ must be considered for every state
23. Agriculture and food processing SEZ must be established near ports and in every state
24. Don’t transform Mumbai to Shanghai. Create more Mumbai’s in India. Have realistic goals
25. Remove bureaucratic hurdles to set up small businesses like removing multiple approvals. Let it be a single window clearance for setting up a shop or small business
We must be focussed on servicing our population and not be dependent on globalization. We have learned now that building an economy based on just FDI will not be a stable economy. We need to learn a lesson from the BJP’s Swadeshi strategy. Albeit in a different manner. Let the financing be local and focus on intrinsic industries. Agriculture, and SSI is good enough to give stable growth to the economy
Unchecked capitalism has failed in USA . Now America is fast moving towards being a socialistic economy – American government is funding and buying into big defaulting and bankrupt corporations thus socialising the economy. It is clear that you can’t build a great economy on capitalist lines. I have my serious doubts on Barack being able to revive US capitalist economy. In India, we have only four five major corporates in a land of a billion people. This indicates that the policies of the government have favoured or controlled by a privileged few !! This needs to be changed immediately. Encourage entrepreneurship and SSI in an institutionalised manner and support them.
Give a push to communication, Infrastructure, healthcare, education and PPP to grow India to the next level. Have a robust pension system and a culture of long term investments and savings. This is critical to avoiding America like defaults and disaster
I must also take you through the US failure and where it might head for. The failure of America is due to lack of culture of savings and greedy & unnatural growth strategies. It is the start of the historical shift of power equation. Historically, Greek & Roman empires dominated the world. Then came the turn of Britain that controlled the world , It shifted the power equation to USSR & USA. Now it is the USA. Future undoubtedly is of China. If you care to correct the situation with drastic measures, India will be back in to glory by the year 2020 as the world’s top most power.
We have faltered due to our myopic policies. You have the opportunity to change this nation’s future by taking appropriate measures or get caught in the web of political compulsions or electoral policies. Needless to mention, peace is a precondition to progress.
See the date of different states, this tells us a lot. I have arranged in ascending order w.r.t. population
S. No State Population Per capita net state domestic product in INR No. of M.P.’s
Lok Sabha No. of M.P’s Rajya Sabha No. of Assembly seats
1 Lakshadweep 60650 N.A. 1
2 Daman & Diu 1.58 Lac NA 1
3 Dadra & Nagar Haveli 2.2 Lac N.A. 1
4 Andaman & Nicobar 3.56 Lac 28340 ( 2002-3) 1
5 Sikkim 5.4 Lac 21586 (2003-4) 1 1 32
6 Mizoram 8.88 Lac 22207 (2002-3) 1 1 40
7 Chandigarh 9 Lac 57621 (2003-4) 1
8 Poducherry 9.74 Lac 50936 (2003-4) 1 1 30
9 Arunachal Pradesh 11 Lac 17393 ( 2003-4) 2 1 60
10 Goa 13.47 Lac 53092 (2002-3) 2 1 40
11 Nagaland 19 Lac 18911 (2001-2) 1 1 60
12 Manipur 21.66 Lac 14766 (2003-4) 2 1 60
13 Meghalaya 23.18 Lac 18135 (2003-4) 2 1 60
14 Jharkhand 26.9 Lac 12509 (2003-4) 14 6 81
15 Tripura 31 Lac 18676 (2002-3) 2 1 60
16 Himachal Pradesh 60 Lac 24903 (2003-4) 4 3 68
17 Uttaranchal 84 Lac 13260 (2001-2) 5 3 70
18 J&K 1 Crore 13320 ( 2001-2) 6 4 87
19 Delhi 1.38 Crore 51.664 (2003-4) 7 3 70
20 Chhattisgarh 2.0 Crore 14863 ( 2003-4) 11 5 90
21 Haryana 2.11 Crore 29963 ( 2003-4) 9 5 90
22 Punjab 2.4 Crore 27851 (2003-4) 13 7 117
23 Assam 2.65 Crore 13139 ( 2003-4) 14 7 126
24 Kerala 3.18 Crore 24492 ( 2003-4) 19 9 140
25 Orissa 3.68 Crore 12388 (2003-4) 21 10 147
26 Gujarat 5 Crore 26979 ( 2003-4) 26 11 182
27 Karnataka 5.28 Crore 21696 (2003-4) 28 12 225
28 Rajasthan 5.60 Crore 15486 (2003-4) 25 10 200
29 M.P. 6 Crore 14011 (2003-4) 29 11 230
30 Tamilnadu 6.2 Crore 23358 (2003-4) 39 18 234
31 Andhra Pradesh 7.6 Crore 20,757 (2003-4) 42 18 295
32 West Bengal 8 Crore 20896 (2003-4) 42 16 294
33 Bihar 8.29 Crore 5780 ( 2003-4) 40 16 243
34 Maharashtra 9.68 Crore 29204 (2003-4) 47 19 288
35 Uttar Pradesh 16.61 Crore 10817 (2003-4) 80 31 403
I must also advice that you convince your colleagues on increasing the salary of M.P.’s, and this is one thing that they might or might not agree. 545 Member of parliaments run this country. Let them have the best salaries. I will recommend for them salaries starting Rs.2.5 Crores with a larger bonus on performance. Reasonable cause for this high salary is that;
1. We will get the best brains drawn to politics
2. Public will not let incompetent people to be elected to such ‘high paying offices’ and public outcry will question non performance for the high salaries
3. Bribes ‘might’ stop
4. People taking such salaries will have guilt if they did not deliver (at least we can hope so !!).
Recently, I interviewed more than 100 students of a top internationally renowned management institution at Mumbai and was both happy and felt at a loss. I am glad that we have a logical and a responsible youth contrary to media perception. But i felt sorry that, they are lacking proper guidance and so they are disillusioned. We must unleash the power of youth, more so, of women power. Then only we will begin a new era of growth.
Recession is equally big an opportunity as robust economic growth.
Economic Forecast for 2009: If the Indian economy grew at 8 -9 % in 2007-8. I must believe that, about half of this came due to intrinsic or local market factors that is about 4 to 4.5 % . So we will continue with that growth with some downward slide in 2009, and also that the remaining half was due to foreign or extrinsic factors. Which i believe, will reduce by a good 50 % . So intrinsic or internal growth will contribute between 3.5 to 4.5 % and remaining 2- 2.5 % will come from the extrinsic factors. So in all , i guess this year we will witness growth somewhere around 6.0 to 7.0 %. If the World economies shrink badly , which is expected, this might impact this growth a little more and bring it down well under 6.0 %
You will not be remembered for how you managed the crisis of the 90’s but how you manage 09. That time, we were alone in the crisis and compulsions left with you with only one option. Now it is a Global crisis . Only intelligent and effective leadership can work. I see so many opportunities and endless possibilities. Hope see that as well. Good Luck !
Dr.Singh, we cannot drive our car looking at other cars rear view mirror. We must drive our car from within and people cannot steer it from outside. This has a message for you. Look inside and drive India to glory, out of recession
I hope i have made a point
Rajendra Pratap Gupta
Mobile: 09323109456 / 9867300045