Rama Krishna Sangem
As we all enter Happy New Year 2023, predictions by experts from different fields point that the worst is over for India. We at Excel India have curated dozens of forecasts on various sectors in 2023 and came to the view that we Indians can expect a better year ahead – health wise and financially. That means, this year will be better than 2022 to a large extent and 2021 to a great extent and 2020, 100 times.
This optimistic view emerges from the fact that India has learnt to deal with crises – be it Covid-19 or Ukraine war or even the inflationary as well as recessionary trends in the developed countries. Border clashes with China too have become part and parcel of security systems. Our preparedness on all these fronts has gone up, making us immune to any shocks due to turbulence.
First, Covid-19. Initially we feared there would be a massive flare up in the situation. BF-7 variant that shook China would pose a bigger health emergency in India too. But, luckily, that is not the case any longer. After its detection in October first week, this new variant is proved to be docile in our country. There are no major hospitalizations or massive infections. Covid is not completely gone, but it is no more a major crisis for us.
This is because of our hybrid immunity to Covid. We achieved this through two ways – massive vaccination and heard immunity. Our vaccines are one of the best in the world. Definitely better than those of made in China. Introduction of nasal vaccine by Bharat Biotech from this January end on will boost our capacity to deal with any contingency. Our medical preparedness too is second to none. Over all, we can face Covid without any lockdowns. That’s great.
Russian war on Ukraine has burdened most developed countries. Prices of oil, food grains and edible oils have gone up all over. Supply chains are disrupted. but, interestingly, India has recovered from the initial shocks and stood stable now. Our diplomatic stand has ensured cheaper Russian oil that is far below that of the global prices. The last time petroleum prices in India went up was in April 2022. Since then, there is no increase.
Prime Minister Modi detractors point to falling Indian Rupee (INR) value against the US dollar – from Rs 71 two years ago to Rs 82 now. Still, as per Reserve Bank of India, INR fluctuation is better than most currencies in the world. Sustained growth in exports and stable imports have provided some solace to weakening of INR. Some economists predict our INR will strengthen up to Rs 72 against USD by 2024 end.
The problem originates because of our heavy dependence on the US capital investments. Whenever Federal Reserve increases their interest rate, US investors take out their money and put it back in their country. Our foreign exchange reserves decrease and our INR weakens. But, this time, this cycle seems to be halting. Local investments are coming in large amounts and India is able to attract global capital, in spite of US interest rate hikes.
Theoretically, G-20 leadership is not a big issue for any country – leave alone India. However, PM Narendra Modi is good at making this as a tool to keep India at the center stage of the world order. His communication channels with both Russia’s president Vladimir Putin and Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky prove this. Not only that Modi is able to take US president Joe Biden along in his diplomatic journey.
The US policy of discouraging China from making use of high technologies – be it semiconductors or advanced research in military equipment – will help India. Most of the curbs on transfer of critical technologies to China will help India attract those companies shifting their firms to our country. More than anything, India becoming the world’s most populous country, surpassing China, at 141 crore people, in 2023 make us the biggest market in the world.