"India constantly repeats its two mistakes"... Harvard Business Review Article says







Today I plan to take a brave step and hope to begin writing about some of the larger issues, concerns, debates and opinions on India and her policies and I thought the blog is now ready to move away from only the Pune centric issues and graduate to express my thoughts on India. I hope you will enjoy and continue reading.

A recent Harvard Business Review article suggests that "India fails because it repeats its mistakes". India, which was, at the beginning of this century, a focal point for the entire world, suddenly seems to have lost its sheen. When the entire world was looking towards India, and wanted it to succeed, 'our train' derailed and missed the point where we were all traveling. Numerous studies, articles, theories and debates have emerged on this single most, yet the most pressing issue for India and the world. In Shashi Tharoor's words, the World wants India to succeed and that was very evident in the early 2000s when India seemed to embrace economic power, showed positive signs of rising above poverty and signaled a promise of better infrastructure and better future. I personally, think, this romantic phase of India's development continued till 2008 and for some reason, mostly political, India spiraled down once again. For a nation that was finally 'emerging', this spiral has proven to be the worst disaster for the collective imagination of its citizens. Just when, India and its citizenry was feeling good about India, inflation, then corruption, later violence on women and then the free fall of the Rupee has marred India's image, perhaps for a very very long time.

The Harvard Business Review article written by Anand P. Raman, has very succinctly put forth a list of failures which has caused India to fail in its exams in the last few years. I am not pessimistic enough to say 'India has Failed' because nations and its polity are never static. However, the last few years, even an optimist and a hard core India defender has to say that we, as a nation, have failed...failed to reach a point B from point A where we were supposed to be going. Instead we have ended up far into the marshes, requiring us to once again begin the long trudge back to the train station that we missed somewhere in 2008.

However, let me quickly summarize the HBR article, which sort of reinforces other writings of Amartya Sen and Ruchir Sharma on India's economic development. Anand Raman says that India fails to emerge because she constantly repeats two mistakes.

One, she is not confident enough or not philosophically inclined to embrace the private markets for its economic development. In India, there is always a generally socialist mood where the government is yet again and again put into the role of the sole benefactor, failing to reap rewards from the efficiency of the private markets. Time and again, India and its policy restricts private entrepreneurship through a system of permits and licences, leading to more and more corruption. Further, the corruption indirectly leads to a huge level of mistrust between the government and the citizens, further taxing and eroding even good policies and their implementation. Despite a slight breakthrough due to the post liberalization in 1990s, we find that India, since 2008, has slipped back into its old habit of governmental control.

Second, India and its policies are yet unable to harness the state governments and the public sector for equitable distribution of economic development. In fact, more and more centralized power dispensation, and very local power decentralization due to the 74th Constitutional Amendment is making the State government almost redundant and ineffective. Further, unaccountable, opaque and inefficient public sector has ensured that the social and physical infrastructure development is slow and thus by itself restricting India's economic potential. Thus, every few years, India sees a promise but once again reverts back to the basic struggle for lifting most of its citizens out of poverty.
But, a die-hard optimist that I am, I think we are yet poised at a threshold and in 2014 Indians will have once more the power to choose its government. To show the world that India is an intelligent democracy, our voting should give first priority to form a government that will quickly lift us out of the economic whirlpool and who can make the public sector accountable through very rigorous and unprecedented reforms.

I personally feel it is extremely crucial for India to bring into power a government that has the potential to bring back the private sector for the public good of the country. In terms of giving tags, we need Liberal Right wing government to tide us over the past decade of bad socialist policy making and the license Raj. I hope, Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi are listening!


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