WHEN FORTUNE INDIA’S journalists got together at the beginning of this year to conceptualise the May 2020 issue around the theme ‘Modi 2.0’ (and how the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party regime had fared in the first year of its second term), the discussions were centred around how the government, which was grappling with a slowing economy and declining consump-tion, would kick-start things again.
And then came Covid-19. As the pan-demic spread across the world, hitting the biggest and mightiest economies and bringing them to their knees. As this issue was put together, it be-came increasingly clear that 2020 would be a washout as far as the world economy-my is concerned—a lost year in history. Throwing aside all economic calculations, the world, and India, is currently busy battling the pandemic and attempting to flatten the curve of infections and deaths by way of an extended lockdown. In such a scenario, what can the Modi government do? With growth forecasts for India ranging from 0% to 1%, it is believed India would have done well if it doesn’t fall into a recession, and manages to stay in positive territory. But what is urgently required to keep the economy afloat is government spending by way of an aggressive stimulus package to add to the `1.7 lakh crore spent initially for the weakest sections of the population, and which is clearly not enough given the sheer magnitude of India’s problems. As factories, small enterprises, construction, aviation, and several other sectors of the economy sink deeper into trouble, the Modi government will need to pull out all stops and attempt to spend its way out of a potential recession. Whether the government has the ammunition to do that is the trillion-dollar question and something the cover story of this issue examines in detail.
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