For this argument to make sense, we must focus on fundamentals alone- production and consumption. The world of today is far more educated than it was when abundance of agricultural produce led to industrial growth with more and more people taking up other, varied occupations. But the irony is that with a relatively more educated world, we have been unable to repeat the feats of previous revolutions in the present time where economies are either contracting or growing at a lesser-than-expected rate.
The problem is we are overlooking fundamentals of economy. A big, tangible change can be observed should we choose to consider just two things- production and consumption. Let’s understand this with the Indian economy in the backdrop. Which were the periods when the country grew rapidly? These periods are the ones where our economic activity increased, and to be precise, production and consumption saw rise.
The present working of the economic landscape is definitely an impediment to further growth. And there is an eye-opener in the form of COVID-19-induced lockdowns that lays bare the fact that any halt in economic activity leads to nothing but impoverishment. Until it struck, India was doing business as usual. Most enterprises operated from typical 9am to 5pm working hours and indeed, it did provide employment opportunities to some people. Yet, many remained unemployed or underemployed- thereby hitting both production and consumption.
India is a country with demographic dividend and abundant labour, but there is limited work. In the present scene, when enterprises operate for 9 hours, any government, any policy think tank, any activist or any economic adviser cannot succeed in any attempt targeted towards economic growth.
First, increase production by allowing and encouraging enterprises to run for more hours in a day. This will automatically trigger employment generation. More production of varied goods and services will lead to prices coming down. This in turn will boost consumption. One, more people employed means more money in the hands of people, and two, lower prices means more consumption of goods and services that aren’t mere basic necessities.
The simple logic here is that to have a positive GDP growth, we need to produce more, and this production is only possible when people consume more. Both can be achieved by letting the enterprises operate 24×7.
No other scheme, policy action, legislation can achieve the economic growth that we seek to pull out more and more citizens out of poverty and enable India’s shift from ‘developing’ to ‘developed’. The appetite has remained untapped for long. Appetite for motorized vehicles, for electronic goods and even luxury goods has to be tapped by first increasing production and letting the consumption side play its part.
Indian IT industry, BPO sector and other enterprises are examples of what happens when you operate 24×7. Indeed, we cannot start with manufacturing passenger vehicles 24×7, and this is why we need more research on how to implement this plan. The basic rationale is that increased production activity alone can assist economic growth of India. Imagine this- institutions of higher learning operating round the clock and producing more doctors and chartered accountants- of course we need them; banking services available 24×7 and enabling more and more money transactions.