The prevailing mood of metropolitan India mirrors the state of our battered, confidence-hit stock markets that are tanking by the day on adverse global cues. An ‘uncertain future’ is, in fact, the biggest worry of a representative cross-section of adult men and women in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad polled by Hindustan Times-CNN-IBN. Such dismal feelings have, no doubt, been triggered by the unfolding global financial crisis. A majority of respondents do believe that the country will not remain unscathed by this crisis.
Interestingly, nearly half of the respondents have been personally affected by the stock market crash with the exposure levels being least in Bengaluru and Kolkata. Six out 10 respondents also believe the drop in the stock market to be short-term. But such optimism was the weakest in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Mumbai. Clearly, there are wealth effects due to the evaporation of portfolios as four out 10 people have begun cutting down on spending. Nearly half are worried over losing jobs. Exemplifying this gloomy mood is the fact that 82 per cent are worried about India’s economic condition.
The Hindustan Times-CNN-IBN poll sends out a forceful message to India’s policy-makers. At a time when fear and panic have gripped India’s stock markets in a bear hug, there has been only one reassuring statement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. A majority of the respondents believe that the ruling UPA government has been ineffective in dealing with the ongoing crisis, with the nation’s Capital and Ahmedabad being the most critical in this regard. What should make the Finance Minister also sit up and take notice is that only one out of three respondents feel that he has done a good job.
As metropolitan India’s mood is downcast, there is obviously a need for greater prime ministerial engagement to deal with this global crisis. His team members have, no doubt, been trying to contain the fallout but their credibility would be enhanced if they match rhetoric with decisive action.