Covid-19: Modi’s global stature will help India | Analysis – analysis
India is at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, others are in the midst of it, and no one, not even China, has reached the end. The only certainty is the uncertainty of the impact of the virus. But there will be a time, after the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) has finally ended, which will be marked by disruption and chaos, and across the world, it will be a time of new beginnings. For example, due to the blockade, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has successfully extended until May 3, many people, whose work allows it, have been working from home. This can become the norm for at least one segment of the professional workforce, as it saves on office space and transportation.
This period will also shape other aspects of society. It has been difficult for those at the bottom of the pyramid, from domestic help to migrant workers. Now they can organize, ask for higher wages and better treatment. Those most affected have been migrant workers, who must be protected. This is the responsibility of the state governments. A new environment created out of this pandemic will require the introduction of various schemes to address such concerns across the country.
But the crisis will also alter international politics. The global spread of the disease will test the leadership of world leaders. Prime Minister (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi appears ready and willing to take on a world leadership role to deal with this unprecedented crisis. At this difficult time, one must recognize that it is a national asset, with a massive global currency. Even his critics reluctantly admit that he enjoys credibility on the world stage.
PM Modi has already had conversations, individually, with all the major world leaders. He took the initiative to have the first G-20 summit on the subject, virtually. Closer, even before many countries recognized the severity of the crisis, he proposed a meeting of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation nations to develop a strategy to fight Covid-19 and commit financial resources to it. Modi’s credibility stems from his domestic strength, his statesman’s focus on these global issues, his wise advice and calls for collaboration, and his actions, where he has strived to help countries in distress, without compromising the needs of the India.
In the past six years, Modi has stepped up India’s global engagement in unprecedented ways. While his critics focused on counting his air miles, he made new friends and strengthened old relationships. His goal was to make enemies friends. He accomplished what in geopolitical circles is considered a rare feat, of developing a close bond with the President of the United States, Donald Trump, while earning the respect of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
All of this is now paying dividends. When the dust settles over the coronavirus crisis, and countries pick up the pieces of their battered economies, they will seek inspiring leadership. Modi won’t be in the mood.
However, India’s biggest challenge will be how to get the national economy back on track. And this international goodwill can be used to that end. Global players may realize that India’s bureaucratic bottlenecks are a lesser evil than the confidence deficit they have with China. They might consider moving their production units from China to India, if India makes it attractive enough for them. India must focus on attracting foreign investment, through a package of innovative policy measures, once the reconstruction process begins.
Nationally, there is likely to be a follow-up economic stimulus after the ~ 1.7 lakh crore package was launched to provide immediate relief to the poor. The infrastructure and manufacturing sectors, along with the service industry, need the immediate attention of the government. Non-bank financial assets and small and medium-sized enterprises also need help.
India has a domestic market that largely kept the country going during the 2008 recession. We must make efforts to generate demand and improve production, along with our efforts to give a strong boost to exports.
The Covid-19 outbreak presents one of the biggest challenges for Modi. He has emphasized the importance of lives (jaan) and the world (jahan) Your overall stature will help preserve both.
Syed Zafar Islam is the national spokesperson for the BJP and former managing director of Deutsche Bank, India.
The opinions expressed are personal.