Chief Economic Advisor Krishnamurthy Subramanian took to iconic Indian pop culture references while presenting the Union Finance Ministry's 2020-21 Economic Survey on Friday.
Subramanian sought to explain macroeconomics and healthcare-related concepts with the help of scenes from the 1980s all-time classic Malgudi Days and 2009 Bollywood sensation 3 Idiots.
The CEA, while attempting to put forth his point that redistribution of wealth and resources was not the solution to alleviating poverty and achieving economic equality drew the Parliament's attention to a scene from Malgudi Days.
The scene he refers to is the math test marks 'redistribution' between Swami and his friend Shankar. Swami, excellent at mathematics, scores 100 out of 100. Shankar, however, scores 60. Their headmaster, miffed at the difference in the outcome, opts to level their scores by giving Shankar another 20 marks, and reducing Swami's by 20, to 80.
Swami, visibly upset, expresses his disappointment to his mother and says that his hard work has been penalised, while his friend's lack of it has been rewarded. Shankar, on the other hand is of the notion that he need not study anymore as he will continue to receive an additional 20 marks.
Subramanian refers to this scene to drive home the importance of clarity of objective in policy making such that the tradeoffs made suit the specific economic context of the day.
The 3 Idiots scene Krishnamurthy refers to is the satirical depiction of Raju's household, where his mother laments that all her earnings go into managing her husband's health, leaving next to nothing for household expenditure, let alone her daughter's marriage.
He uses the example of a scene from 3 Idiots to bring light on the issue of 'out of pocket spending' on healthcare among a large number of poor households. "This scene, albeit meant to be humorous, is actually representative of the situation many families in India may find themselves in," says Subramanian.
He adds that if India were to spend 2.5 per cent of the GDP on healthcare as opposed to the amount presently being spent, out of pocket expenditure in households like that od Raju's would halve to 30 per cent from 60 per cent.