Nirmala Sitharaman Has The Opportunity Of Her Lifetime. Will She Seize It?

Given the poor state of the economy at the moment, if Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman manages to do a turnaround, she could see her career graph zoom up!

Given the poor state of the economy at the moment, if Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman manages to do a turnaround, she could see her career graph zoom up!

Our economy is not in good shape.

No amount of manipulating the headlines by a pliant media can hide that fact anymore.

I can quote as many numbers as I want to try and highlight the positive achievements of the Modi government but the fact remains that the GDP, considered by many as the Holy Grail of our economy, has been at its worst ever since our current Prime Minister came to power in 2014.

A 5% growth rate reminds us of the latter half of the Congress-led UPA (United Progressive Alliance) era when our economy had gone to the dogs. It was precisely why the Bharatiya Janata Party led by Prime Minister Modi came to power so that we never have to visit those dark days ever again.

Are things as bad as they were in 2012-14? I don’t really know because I am not an economist who can read between the numbers. Finance and economics have never been my strong point. But there is a perception building up that we are going to have a tough time ahead until and unless the government does what it needs to do.

And it’s not just the GDP. Abysmal auto sales and higher levels of inventory, poor manufacturing growth, sliding rupee, job losses in the auto and textile sector along with alarming levels of NPAs (non-performing assets) are just some of the indicators that all is not well at the North Block.

To tackle this situation, our government has gone back on measures it had announced in the recent budget including the super rich tax and introduce new FDI norms to try and contain the steady outflow of foreign money from our country.

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Other measures like amalgamation of certain public sector banks and linking repo rates to rate of interest of loans provided by banks may help us for now but more reforms are needed.

It is in this context that I believe that out Current Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, has a golden opportunity which she would do well to catch on.

Can Nirmala Sitharaman earn her place in history?

The only reason for my belief is that if she manages to improve the GDP to 8% for next few years, revive manufacturing and agriculture, bring in more foreign capital and export dollars along with generating a reasonably good number of jobs along the way, she will elevate her standing to unimaginably high levels.

Everyone likes the person who manages to bring a positive change when adversity is knocking on our doors. Snatching a moderate victory from the jaws of certain defeat is what makes someone a legend.

Dr. Manmohan Singh may have been the Prime Minister for one of the worst performing governments in independent India, but he is still fondly remembered for the miracle of 1991 when India actually got out of jail and ushered in the economic change which made us what we are today.

Nitish Kumar is still known as ‘Sushasan Babu’ for his reforms which turned around the economy and image of Bihar, even though his record in the health sector (read encephalitis) is horrifying and may cost him dearly in the future.

Chandrababu Naidu is still remembered for transforming Hyderabad even though he is out of power in Andhra Pradesh.

All I am saying is that one spectacularly good deed in politics can paper over a number of bad ones. It’s sad but true. No one will care if she is not able to make India a 5 trillion dollar economy by 2024 because it’s more important to maintain a healthy growth rate of 8% for the next 5 to 10 years while ensuring real job growth and greater prosperity.

If she can do that she will attain legendary status. And who knows, we may have our Second woman Prime Minister in the making. We need more women in politics and having one in the top job certainly helps the cause.

Image credits India Today video

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