Inflation | Mood of the nation survey: ET Online poll finds out what India wants from this budget
ET Online recently ran a survey to get an idea of the mood of the nation ahead of what will likely be the most critical budget exercise in a generation. About 5,700 ET readers took part in the week-long survey and registered their responses to 10 questions that sought to find out what some of India’s best-informed business news readers thought about the state of the economy on budget eve.
A large number of survey participants (over 42 per cent) believe India’s inherent fundamental strength will see the economy through the vicissitudes of the pandemic. Over a fifth (21.1 per cent) think credit should go to good leadership and policy for the Indian economy’s quicker-than-expected comeback.
Just under 12 per cent of readers say the fast recovery has a lot to do with the government’s well-target stimulus packages. A fourth of all respondents (over 25 per cent) ascribe India’s resilience to the fact that the pandemic’s economic damage here never really got out of hand.
Talking of Covid, responses by survey participants to Modi government’s handling of the public health crisis are generally quite favourable. Well over 30 per cent respondents think the govt acquitted itself creditably well in dealing with Covid’s economic blow. Add to this those (almost 38 per cent) who say the govt’s handling of the crisis was “good for a nation of India’s means”, and you get a clear picture of how ET readers view Modi’s Covid policy.
False hope or real recovery?
It seems to be a pided house when it comes to the question of the resilience or robustness of the ongoing recovery. Compared to 30.5 per cent readers who say the recovery is unmistakable and green shoots are clear, an even higher 37.4 per cent believe that it is too early to celebrate the economy’s great escape act.
As many as 10.4 per cent of the participants think it is just pent-up demand that is being mistaken for a recovery. More than a fifth (21.7 per cent) of the surveyed say everything is going to depend on how the Covid situation plays out from here.
The best way to put the pandemic’s economic impact behind, according to 33.8 per cent of respondents, is to boost sentiment through tax cuts in the upcoming budget. An even larger number of people, however, are of the opinion that incentivising companies to create jobs will be a better way to help India emerge from Covid’s shadow.
A quarter of those surveyed bat for increased public spending. Cash transfer to the needy fails to find too many takers (6.8 per cent).
On Modi govt’s reform measures, a high 48.7 per cent say that while the intent is good, everything will depend on execution. 13.6 per cent respondents find the reforms ambiguous, while 27.2 per cent see these moves as more political than economic.
Those who wholly back Modi’s reforms make up a much smaller (10.6 per cent) chunk.
Finding the jobs
Reader responses to a question on the jobs scene suggest that while Covid’s initial ravages may be over, the government can hardly afford to take its foot off the pedal at this juncture, with as many as 28.5 per cent of respondents believing the worst is not over on the job generation front and another 32 per cent saying that a jobs resurgence will be contingent on what the government does going forward.
What of India’s much-hyped demographic pidend, which for some time has been threatening to go from a boon to a bane in the absence of jobs?
According to 33.7 per cent of survey participants, India still has time left to cash in on this boon. But whether or not India can stop it from becoming a bane will depend on government policy, almost a half (48.3 per cent) of respondents say.
Make in India for the world
One of the questions that drew an emphatic response is the one on Atmanirbhar Bharat. Modi’s pet strategy seems to have resonated with a large number of ET readers, with more than half (50.6 per cent) of all respondents saying it’s a good strategy and that it suits an economy like India well.
Only a small percentage (8.8 per cent) believes Atmanirbharta is a policy misstep. 22.5 per cent voters think it’s a risky but potentially rewarding move. Those who say only time can tell if it’ll be a success or not, comprise 18.2 per cent of participants.
Will India be able to replace China as the prime mover of global manufacturing? Not in the foreseeable future, say 19.4 percent. It a clear Yes for 15.5 per cent of readers, and a clear No for 10.5 per cent.
The largest chunk comprises those who believe that while India becoming the world’s production capital is possible, it will need hard reform.
For 39.3 per cent respondents, India did the right thing by staying out of RCEP. 29.9 per cent think that both good and bad things will come out of India’s decision, while 21.1 per cent say it’s too early to know for sure.
Just 9.7 per cent participants are of the belief that India made a big mistake by opting out of the world’s biggest trade bloc.