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A Shot In The Arm For Achhe Din?

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi receiving his first dose of vaccine, not only the inoculation drive against Covid-19 — but also the nation’s recovery prospects got a fresh shot in the arm. The investors now foresee acceleration in the drive to subdue the virus – which should free up all critical sectors. Moody’s has revised India’s GDP projections for FY22 upwards to 13.7% (from 10.8% estimated earlier) while the IMF has projected 11.5% (up from 8.8%). Despite Covid-19 stress, the GST collections for past five consecutive months have exceeded over Rs 1 lakh crore – including Rs 1.13 lakh crore in Feb 2021, up 7% versus Feb 2020. The state-wise GST growth is led by big states – Gujarat (up 14%), Tamil Nadu 9%, Maharashtra 2%, and Karnataka 2%. The recovery is attributed to a resilient farm economy as well as an impressive manufacturing performance with the Purchasing Managers’ Index hitting 57.5% in Feb. With vaccination drive in full swing, the services sector and the MSMEs should also bounce back. Meanwhile, the Central and the state governments should focus on reforms and relief on four fronts: 1) Employment generation; 2) an empowered antitrust watchdog to track corporate dominance in key businesses, including farming; 3) better industrial relations amid Kolar violence (at Apple iPhone plant); and 4) better outcomes from the Bad Bank (with the creditors identifying corporate loans of over Rs 1.45 lakh crore).