Chief economic adviser Krishnamurthy Subramanian (Reuters file)
Chief economic adviser Krishnamurthy Subramanian (Reuters file)

Five ways in which this Economic Survey is different from previous ones

  • From being guided by 'blue sky' or unfettered thinking about what should be the right economic model to Behavioural economics, the Economic Survey has quite a few first times
  • Among others, it also makes a strong case for using the amount of data generated by the digital economy for public good

New Delhi: The Economic Survey tabled in Parliament on Thursday by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman makes for compelling reading on account of the new ideas it has put forth, most notably of unfettered thinking that India needs in its journey towards becoming a $5 trillion economy.

Blue sky thinking

The Survey’s author and chief economic advisor Krishnamurthy V. Subramanian said in the preface to the annual critique of the economy that the team that worked on it was guided by "blue sky" or unfettered thinking about what should be the right economic model for Asia’s third largest economy. “To achieve the vision of a $5 trillion economy, India needs to shift gears to accelerate and sustain a real GDP growth rate of 8%," said the survey.

The Survey aptly has a blue cover with a set of wheels indicating national priorities like growth, exports and job creation. “The cover design captures the idea of complementary inter-linkages between these macroeconomic variables using the pictorial description of several inter-linked gears," said Subramanian in the preface to the survey.

Behavioural economics

The Survey says insights from behavioural economics can help design impactful public policy. The impact created by the government's flagship initiatives such as Swachh Bharat Mission, Jan Dhan Yojana and the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme provide testimony to the potential of behavioural change in India, the Survey says. It lays out an ambitious agenda for behavioural change on issues like gender equality, a healthy and beautiful India, savings, tax compliance and credit quality.

Data, the new oil

The Economic Survey makes a strong case for using the massive amount of data generated by a rapidly digitizing economy for the public good. It describes data as a “public good of the people, for the people and by the people".

Nursing dwarfs to become giants

The Survey makes a strong case for aiding small and medium enterprises to climb the corporate ladder and become large enterprises competing on the world stage.

How to deal with an ageing society

While India’s population continues to grow in absolute numbers, the Economic Survey says the country is set to witness a sharp slowdown in population growth in the next two decades. It points out that some states will start transitioning to an ageing society by the 2030s. Population in the 0-19 age bracket has already peaked due to sharp declines in total fertility rates across the country, says the Survey. The southern states, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, West Bengal and Maharashtra now have fertility rates well below the replacement rate. The Survey says that policy makers need to prepare for ageing. This will need investments in health care as well as a plan for increasing the retirement age in a phased manner.

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