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Leading The Next Growth Wave

When we look at the nation’s capabilities today, we take pride in statistics such as emerging as the fifth largest economy in the world and the third largest in purchasing power parity terms

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Every August 15, India’s Independence Day reminds us of the huge strides we have made since 1947. Few expected India to succeed as a democratic nation as it was mired in poverty, illiteracy and fiscal problems. The strategy of a mixed economy with the state as a major player in the development process was accepted by all, and in fact, industrialists of the day believed that there was a little alternative, given the weak private sector and significant imports.

We have certainly come a long way since then. A few data points will reinforce this point. The poverty ratio which used to cross over 60% in drought years, has now come down dramatically to just over 21%. We now have over 900 universities and some 40,000 colleges and almost one in four youth now participate in higher education. In 1950, there were just about 500 colleges, and only one in eight persons could be counted as literate. 

When we look at the nation’s capabilities today, we take pride in statistics such as emerging as the fifth largest economy in the world and the third largest in purchasing power parity terms. Many of our social sector programs such as the mid-day meal, food security, and employment guarantee schemes are the largest in the world, contributing to equitable growth and income security for several hundred million citizens. Our workers are a force for the world and our scientists and engineers have transformed the country into a global knowledge powerhouse. India is home to 500 million people online, the third largest startup numbers in the world, and a dynamic entrepreneurial sector. 

The economy has weathered major global economic crisis situations of the last two decades such as the Asian financial crisis and the Global Economic Crisis with relative fortitude. The IMF expects the Indian economy to remain one of the leading growth drivers for the world, achieving around 8% growth rate on a steady basis over the coming years. Today, most macroeconomic indicators are at acceptable levels, and economic reforms enjoy widespread consensus. 

A nation of India’s size and population with a large and aspirational workforce has the potential to seize the next wave of growth. Rapid, dynamic changes due to technology, changing business models and many other factors are transforming the global economy. 10 -12 million young people enter the working age population every year, and 5 million of them look for employment. Along with those leaving agriculture, 4-7 million new jobs must be created every year. 

It is imperative today that we place employment generation at the core of policy formulation. Further, the Indian industry system consists of millions of tiny enterprises which can be empowered through evolving strong technology platforms, enabling enterprise learning, and developing training networks.

There is also the risk that the current education system may be outdated within a few years. Basic education must be supplemented with dynamic modules of learning that are easily accessible and affordable throughout the working life of citizens. Going forward, we must prepare the youth for “Future of Jobs” and to achieve that, we need to build strong Industry-Academia partnerships. Technology can be used to enable workers to adapt to new job requirements on a life-long learning basis.

The vast majority of workers who do not have access to social security need to be equipped with social insurance. At the same time, enterprises must have labour flexibility and labour regulations need to be urgently reshaped.

Technology in the form of Industry 4.0 is the emerging disruptive force. However, it can act as an enabler, with digital technologies and connectivities helping to aggregate enterprises and workers. It is important that these have the right access to finance so that technology can be adequately leveraged.

We look forward to continued resurgence in days to come so that we celebrate the milestone of India @75 in 2022 as a progressive nation marching towards 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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Independence day 2018 Magazine 18 August 2018

Rakesh Bharti Mittal

The author is vice-chairman of Bharti Enterprises

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