With the way this pandemic is playing out, India could especially be hit hard simply because we don’t have a sizeable economy to service 1.4 billion people. Those who are well-to-do may survive, but the daily wage workers will be in a dire situation. The last twenty years of economic development in the country has been substantial; we pulled nearly 240 million people out of poverty. Unfortunately, if major investments do not come in the next two years' time, we may push them straight back below the poverty line.
But in all this, there are bright spots. Without a strong investment from outside the country, we will not have the capability to put the markets and industry back in place, and move populations back to their workplaces. There is a great opportunity for India as the trust that people had in the Chinese economy has been seriously eroded.
The United States and Japan are two major economies which have manufacturing hubs in China. Already Japan has offered incentives to move their industry out of China, and the United States could do something even more drastic. India is eminently positioned to benefit if they come here even for partial production. As a nation we have certain geopolitical advantages. At the level of national leadership, there is a very close alignment among these three nations. This is the time to make use of this friendship for the wellbeing of India and also offer a certain security for their economies. It all depends on how efficiently and hungrily we grab this opportunity.
Over 300 top companies may start partially moving out of China, amounting to about $1.5 trillion. If that kind of investment comes into the country in the next two years' time, then you do not have to worry about people's employment. A very determined effort is needed from the industry lobby, the businesses, and of course, the government has to pitch in. We must set up a single-point clearance without any bureaucratic process – for land, electricity, and all clearances. If necessary, pass an Economic Emergency bill to empower states to execute the facilitation of big investments.
If we can ensure a minimum of ten large industries go into each one of the twenty-eight states, we can kick-start the economy. The investments must spread across the 700-plus districts in the country. The Manchester-style of building industry – the mass production system where everyone must come to one place and work – has to go. In India, it was estimated over 200 million people will move from rural to urban areas in the next ten years. You can imagine what the plight of the cities would be! So the businesses should not be concentrated in one city, otherwise we will face waves of migration where no one can live well.
Another aspect is that in the world, people are terrified of Indian legal ambiguities. The pace of the legal system is so slow that a civil case may take twenty years of your life before it is resolved. When businesses are doing large operations, some small problems will definitely crop up, and there will be litigations. But if such things cannot be quickly settled, no business can progress or prosper in this country. So a billion-dollar-plus investment must be given immunity from PILs and litigation for a period of five years. We must make these policy changes and facilitate igniting of economic process with renewed vigour. If we do this, we can get the economy buzzing.
Stop Anti-Business Campaigns
We must understand that a nation does not progress because of political rhetoric or even because of its military muscle. It is the success of its businesses that will decide a nation’s growth. Unfortunately, there are many forces in the country who are still in the socialistic mind-set. Whenever a pro-business step is taken, a whole negative campaign happens. We took a conscious decision to go the market economy way, but every time we take a forward step, a whole lot of people want to take a backward step. Whenever a government puts any kind of money into the hands of industry for the economic engine to start, people say, “Oh, the rich are getting richer,” and there is so much opposition. Industry leaders and business leaders must stand up and clearly denounce anyone who says something against the firing of the economic engine in the country. The only way you can bring the poor out of their poverty is not by distributing money but by having successful, flourishing businesses. We have to be pro-business. It is only in a thriving business atmosphere that all can earn a dignified livelihood.
There have been many status quos set up in the world in terms of economic platforms, which cannot easily be changed. But today, there is a disruption in this. If we are truly an enterprising nation this is our best opportunity. We must have a clear strategy as to where we will be in the next five years. We have been left out of the economic development in the world. Even most of the Asian countries are thirty years ahead of us. This is the time to catch up and level the playing field in the next three to five years' time.
Ranked amongst the fifty most influential people in India, Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic, visionary and bestselling author. Sadhguru has been conferred the "Padma Vibhushan", India’s highest annual civilian award, by the Government of India in 2017, for exceptional and distinguished service.