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When Less Is More

Accountability in governance is the need of the hour

Photo Credit : Tarun Gupta


As India turns 70, we must take pride in our overall growth story and the banking system. Historically we have done very well in expanding our banking sector and there is no other evidence of that, than to show that during the East Asian crisis, India was one of the few large developing counties that didn’t get affected adversely. As we stand today, we are strong enough to take on the crisis and carry out our development and economic goals for the next 30 years. As far as the non-performing assets’  (NPAs) problem goes, give yourself a time line of 3-4 years and the issue would be resolved, propelling the credit lending scenario of the country. Certain amount of NPAs are unavoidable in the banking sector but we must make sure in future, that they do not increase to a level they have reached today.

India is poised to achieve a high growth rate in future. We must recognise that for the first time in 2014, we have a government formed by a party in majority at the centre. If you look at the period from 1989 to 2014, we had nine governments with six of them having tenure less than a year and three five-years governments in coalition.

Now, we are in a position where as people, we can look up to the government on what is necessary from the country’s point of view. There is a fundamental change in the political structure and we should look forward to growth and making sure that the high priorities in our country are met.

As a matter of fact, we must recognise that we are capable to achieving a high growth rate. We have all the resources required, we have the technology, capital, entrepreneurship and we have all the infrastructure policies in place, so that the demand and jobs could be increased. But on the ground, implementation is the issue. The government has started taking care of that recently.

By and large, if we are achieving a growth rate of 7-8 per cent, we are doing well for ourselves. I do not believe in double digit nominal growth. It is something we should not aim at and work towards achieving a high enough growth. Are we on the right track? Absolutely. The track has been set up by the people of India with the government’s guidance, supported by the backbone of technology.

Poverty alleviation must be given the highest priority for the next 30 years. The second five year plan said that India would be relieved of poverty in 1980. Where are we in 2017? We have the highest number of poor in terms of magnitude in the largest democracy with free and fair elections in the world.

Another issue is our ranking in the Human Development Index, which is extremely low. I see a progress in future, given the initiative we have undertaken especially for health and nutrition in the recent years.

As India moves towards 2047, we need decentralisation of the political system. The idea is with respect to the corporate federalism. We must work towards decentralisation with respect to the implementation and execution in deciding what is appropriate for a particular State. GST is an excellent example of this, carried out completely in consultation with the States. If there are actions being taken at the State level, then let the State take both implementation and accountability.

We need less government, not in terms of democracy, political system or the Parliament, but in terms of structure of governance. Policies should be less dependent on what different ministries decide. There is need for accountability in the sense that someone takes the responsibility of a certain policy implementation.

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.

Bimal Jalan

The author is former Governor of Reserve Bank of India

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