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Shining India....Is It An Eternal Paradox?
India will shine when the bottom pyramid shines and that is a key learning that we forgot in the last few decades of a decent economic run.
Photo Credit : ShutterStock
For somebody who has lived through the 80’s to the early 2000’s, it was a time to strive to unshackle oneself from the morass of the past and be part of the new world, which largely fit the model of the west. So India changed. It’s laws changed to reflect the laws of the free market, its method of working changed, it modernised and it also found its niche in the service delivery model to be the lead in the IT sector. Our expansive population suddenly began to be seen as an asset rather than as a drag in the world sweepstakes. Everybody who was anybody wanted a part of India because of the possibility of it being one of the largest consuming markets of the world after China. We were running with shiny new cars, hardware,machines, facilities to catch up and be the best. World was being globalised and we were running to take our rightful place in the same. For some of us growth was a given the only rider being how much..! Some even coined the phrase “Shining India” for the period we were going through. However did we ever shine or do we even know what it is to shine for a country like India? This is a question which has always been difficult to answer...
Fast forward to present times with a slowing economy and debilitating virus which has put the whole world on hold including India, leaving us perhaps with time to reflect..... What do we see? A country high on ideals but dimming, bereft of infrastructure needed, filthy air, filthy cities with self induced civic mess, low level of relevant education,rampant corruption even in ordinary tasks, high inequity in income and more importantly a little at sea at present as to how do we manage a growing sea of population. We still have to come to terms with our caste and religion dinosaur which rears itself every now and then. Add to that mix our failing institutions,complicit media and judiciary, we have a recipe for complete disaster. While we may have lost our popular slogans of Roti Kapda aur Maakan we have gained new one’s of proper healthcare, education and jobs or maybe we have added to the list. Is this the India we envisaged? Was this what we were celebrating when we said ‘India Shining’? Is this not a complete paradox?
It is not only a paradox but perhaps an eternal one. India is many worlds combined into one and both scenarios ie one of prosperity and of despair are going to exist simultaneously. The question is how do we keep on increasing that prosperity and reducing the inequities that are going to exist. Only then can India truly shine!
Reflections are always good but they do not constitute a plan. What we need at present is a plan, a plan which can transform our actions to the next level. However this is not to suggest that whatever we have done till date has been wrong or infructuous. Its sometimes the circumstances that lead you to results which were not envisaged. Large populations can give you a demographic dividend or lead you to a demographic disaster if we do not gainfully occupy them. China, has changed their profile but our job is tougher by a margin as we are a democracy. Here are a few thoughts for consideration :
- Economic Prosperity
Economic prosperity is a must,a given, that one needs to achieve to take a developing country like India to the next level. The last few decades of growth have not only given us a sense of that,but also how we can change the lives of multitudes and make them a contributory to the national wealth. We need to trade more not less, need to export more not less, need to innovate more not less and be self reliant in a few critical areas. We need to reform our antiquated property,labour and trading norms in line with what the world expects. We also need good distribution,cheap capital and mechanism of resolution of disputes. More importantly good as well as successful businesses create jobs which is dire need for the society and one way of redistributing wealth. More wealth means more tax for the government such that they can recycle back to society through welfare service.
Education,even after years of independence remains perhaps the key imperative for our society. A rupee spent here gives you many times the return in the form of removal of ignorance,removing of caste as well as religious taboos and having a workforce for the future. An educated being is of course beneficial to the upkeep of the environment which is now becoming a necessity. It is specially critical for a country like India as we need to prepare our population for employability in India as well as the world. Education does not only mean the basics which are a necessity but also relevant skills which keep on changing from time to time
3. Good Governance
Good Governance is many things in a single word. It means management of resources, leadership, fairness and forward looking attitude all rolled into one. Many of the other bounties unleashed cease to have effect because of bad governance. A country with fair as well as independent institutions, a judiciary which is responsive and a media which is unbiased help provide that governance. Our investment in Good Governance has to be incremental at all times as its a changing world.
India will shine when the bottom pyramid shines and that is a key learning that we forgot in the last few decades of a decent economic run. Had we not forgotten our investment in the above said we would have ensured that we used our resources for better planned cities, more governance, more empathy and lower disparity in how we treat people. We should have and have to educate our masses out of caste discrimination, religious bigotry and only then true growth can happen. Till then ‘India Shining’ is a paradox....perhaps not eternal as I am an optimist.
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.