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Need To Tighten Few bolts

We have experimented with inefficient age-old systems for years. It is now time for bold moves

Photo Credit : Tarun Gupta

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Broken political  system, tepid growth rates, rampant poverty and host of other issues. Where was India 30 years ago? Crossing all the distressed line, we have completed 70 years. Seventy is not a bad age even for a young nation state like India. And the great part of India’s growth story is that it remains a single country.

As we move towards the golden 100, we will be completely transformed. I see India as a leader in economic terms, given that it produces at least 10 years of single high digit growth or a low double digit growth. There is a great reluctance to undertake deep structural reforms. It might be hard to build consensus in a democracy but we have done it before and can do better in future.

One thing that India has in comparison to any other country is its adoption of technology — the spread of mobile telephones really transformed the Indian environment including private and public life. The awareness is spread deep down to the bottom and that’s a great advantage. India would be able to use that advantage to a great extent in future.

The demographic dividend will come. People will find their ways of making a living. We are very hung up on jobs, because we think of jobs in a very old fashioned way. We have a thing called ‘gig economy’, with no fixed hours or contract. It is completely opposite to the traditional 9-5 job. But, what matters is that one is able to make money to feed himself with dignity. Those kinds of jobs will proliferate in India. We have a large number of casual workers in any case and the ordinary people are flexible, hardworking and willing.  

Seeing India in terms of global affairs, we have an aspiration to be a great power, but still have to see seriousness of work. India has the potential to be a leading power in the next 30 years, if it does its homework right. By homework, I mean real harsh laws of sustained economic growth and efficiency, using the human potential to the best of capacity, giving them incentives and removing the obstacles, makes the system more efficient.

We must treat our citizens with dignity, make their lives easy and help them improve their own existence. All this paternalism need to stop!

The ongoing trouble between India and China to settle the border issue is worrisome. The Chinese for ages have felt deeply insulted that the British took away their territory and they want it back now. They have now come to a level of strength where the age old dream of restoring its historical borders can be fulfilled. I do not doubt anybody’s patriotism or ability, but does India have the stamina and the psychology for a seriously long war. We can be put to test in future.  

We have already started to form an axis with the US and the UK against China. I have said this for many years now that there exist ‘just in case’ military understanding between the US and India. It started with George Bush and Manmohan Singh, renewed by Obama and now renewed by Donald Trump. Today, Narendra Modi is leveraging the diaspora very successfully, making way for India on the global leadership map.

Among all these advantages, we need leadership to be able to get the best out of our people. If you think about inclusive growth, ‘Sabka saath sabka vikas’, it is an amazingly sought slogan, as it takes everybody along. We have experimented with the inefficient age-old systems for years and now it is time to take some bold moves.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Meghnad Desai

Desai is a leading economist and author

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