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‘The Journey Of The Indian Elephant From A Dancer To A Marathoner’

Our demographic advantage is starting to play out compared to other ageing economies, and will only strengthen our hand going forward

Photo Credit : Subhabrata Das

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Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?  
In the Chinese zodiac, every year is associated with an animal, with 12 different animals representing each year in a 12-year cycle. It is a pity that they do not have an elephant in that list. If they did, I would not hesitate to call every year for the next decade as the Year of the Elephant — India!

As India took its first steps towards liberalisation in 1992, the world coined the phrase ‘elephant economy’ — large and powerful, yet entrenched in the past as also slow to act and slow to take advantage of its full potential. Twenty-five years hence, we may still be an elephant, but the characteristics of this elephant have changed drastically. Today, we are one of the fastest growing economies in the world, especially for our GDP (gross domestic product) size. Our demographic advantage is starting to play out compared to other ageing economies, and will only strengthen our hand going forward. With the progressive, long-term structural reforms being undertaken, remaining entrenched in the past is the last thing India could be accused of. We are today a far cry from the India of pre-1992. To all the naysayers who harped on the lumbering elephant, I feel obliged to reply with the title of a book by Louis Gerstner, Jr., erstwhile chairman and CEO of IBM, Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?
 
From a Dancing Elephant to a Marathoner!
A dancing elephant is just the beginning of the journey. To truly become a global superpower, we still need to get a lot of things right. Recent measures such as Jan Dhan Yojana, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, goods and services tax, ‘Housing for All’ are steps in the right direction. The focus must now shift to other areas of concern — the intensity must be relentless to take full advantage of the current momentum.

MSMEs have been the silent growth drivers of our economy. As key contributors to the long-term prospects of the country, we need to work pro-actively towards creating an enabling environment for these enterprises. While the government has been working towards improving overall business conditions through focus on ‘ease of doing business’, special care and emphasis must be imparted to MSMEs to enable them to fulfil their potential and help accelerate their pace of growth.
Traditionally, India has not been a trade-driven economy, with imports dominating exports for most goods. In terms of services, however, we have always been amongst the leaders,  with IT services particularly renowned the world over. The recent push for ‘Make in India’ provides a parallel opportunity to establish India as a goods trading behemoth as well. Not only will this help create more jobs in the country, it will also help us manage our trade deficit. However, for this to truly take effect, the government needs to undertake a variety of reforms — improvements in land and labour laws, finding the right balance between protectionism and open trade, and ensuring stability in the currency amongst the few that are key.

The current reforms agenda of the government has been well-received — it is imperative that it continues in the same earnest. The journey of the Indian elephant from a dancer to a jogger to a runner and finally a marathoner is long and arduous, but as we have shown again and again, with the right leadership and guidance, India is firmly on the path to prosperity.

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.


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Rashesh Shah

Rashesh Shah is chairman and CEO of Edelweiss Group. He has spent more than 25 years in financial markets and the corporate sector. Shah holds an MBA degree from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad

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