In an ‘unscheduled speech to the nation”, - there was little notice of it and its advent was only provided on Twitter yesterday morning - the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Shaktikanta Das announced a long-overdue additional stimulus package for industry to combat the effects of the deadly second wave.
Addressing the nation, the Hon'ble governor RBI very rightly reflected the mood of the nation referring to the impenetrable darkness that has engulfed the nation. He quoted an inspirational line from Mahatma Gandhi, “My faith is brightest in the midst of impenetrable darkness.”
Appreciating the controls that had been used for keeping the pandemic in check in this country last year while it was ravaging several countries scattered all over the globe, he observed that India is now fighting a ferocious rise in infections and mortalities. He appreciated the frontline army of medical and Law enforcement personnel that have been ceaselessly working for over a year now. He also disclosed the existence of the RBI Containment cell where 250 RBI personnel work full time to ensure continuity of financial markets and RBI Operations.
To this, we can also add the other unseen armies that have also been battling it out for all citizens on several fronts, namely transportation, food supplies, internet enablers, educators, utility services, these people who have been keeping the systems running when most of us were locked into our homes.
With the total no of cases in India now having crossed 20 million, and deaths of more than 2.2 lakhs this announcement could not have come at a more appropriate moment as lockdowns and reverse migration rule the roost in several states.
The relief announced yesterday covers a whole range of beneficiaries, from banks, MSMEs, small business units etc. It provides a whole basket of options to raise the liquidity and de-stress the economy.
These measures are expected to boost the ability of business entities to keep the wheels of the economy turning even as India fights to control the pandemic. But in the meanwhile, the RBI Guv reassured the nation. “We will work in close coordination with the Government to ameliorate the extreme travails that our citizens are undergoing in this hour of distress. We are committed to go unconventional and devise new responses as and when the situation demands… we will continue to be proactive throughout the year’. Coming from a bureaucrat, in a national address, is very heartening. Even if this assurance is followed in its breach minimally, it can make a huge difference to outcomes for families, professionals, businesses, and communities. As citizens, we can only hope that a touch of empathy and compassion helps soften the impact of all that may come this year.
The political timing of this announcement is also very curious indeed, coming as it does, on the heels of a defeat at the hustings, after a political campaign that will for long retain its place as one of the most bitter and acrimonious slugfests that this nation has ever seen and may ever see.
The possibility does exist, however remote, that that this is a pacifier to help the recovery from that political loss, but for the common man, any easing of the burden he is expecting to endure this year is certainly welcome.
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