The hackneyed slogans of garibi hatao , sarvajan hitaye, sabka vikas have failed to deliver to the populace which has been reduced to subsisting on doles and freebies now. The economic policies have not delivered adequately. The success of any policy is assured only when it is rooted in the needs, environment and ethos of the people of that country, writes former IAS officer V.S.Pandey
India is now the most populous country in the world surpassing China. For decades population figures have been above the one billion mark with a very young demographic scenario. Currently we have nearly 80 crore plus people in the productive age group ready to contribute to our countries economic output. The irony is that with so many working hands at our disposal, we are still struggling to cross the three trillion dollar GDP mark .We are reduced to competing with nations like the UK with a mere seven crore population – which is just five percent of our population.
In contrast, China with almost the same numbers is at the cusp of crossing the GDP of USA which stands today at 25 trillion dollars. Recent statistics concerning the employment scenario are also dismal. These data are a strident wake up call to our governments and leaders, current and past. It is obvious that our planners did not take the necessary action or formulate the right economic policies to ensure that our economic activity created enough jobs to take care of our population’s futuristic requirements. The failures of the past several decades are now staring at us and demanding answers.
No government can pass on the responsibility of creating millions of jobs to the private players alone. The governments have the primary responsibility of creating such an environment, across the country, that private enterprises not only flourish unhindered but also that they pay their taxes as per law. They should not be allowed to violate the law of the land to fatten themselves alone forgetting that they are a vital part of society and the nation and owe a lot to them.
From times immemorial, private enterprises have been responsible for wealth creation and development of all kinds of industries, businesses etc and are the ‘ hidden hand’ as described by economists. Governance and not private enterprises have to resolve exigent issues like prevailing inequalities, income gaps , poverty ,discrimination and deprivation faced by different sections of the society. It is also not the responsibility of private institutions and individuals to create a conducive ecosystem for businesses and enterprises to flourish-that also devolves upon the State. Hence the balancing act has to be performed by the state- to not only ensure the right kind of governance structure which allows free enterprise to flourish but also ensure that inequality, discrimination, poverty etc. are addressed. This requires skill sets of a very high level and an advanced understanding of prevailing social, political, economic conditions in the country and the world. Most importantly, governance should have the vision to achieve all these objectives collectively to make the life of its people better and happier.
The hackneyed slogans of garibi hatao , sarvajan hitaye, sabka vikas have failed to deliver to the populace which has been reduced to subsisting on doles and freebies now. The economic policies have not delivered adequately. The success of any policy is assured only when it is rooted in the needs, environment and ethos of the people of that country. India needs to have its own economic, social and developmental policies that are consistent with the value system and cultural ethos of our people.
India had been a rich country for centuries and the whole world was vying to establish trade relations with it. Trade with India meant infinite wealth for those nations. We must exercise the same economic clout globally, again.
With the centrality of free trade and free enterprise , comes the salient responsibility of following an economic policy laden with pro people sentiments to ensure that equal rights and opportunities are made available to all to attain their full potential. The challenge before every economic policy framer is to ensure the delicate balance between these competing demands. The humungous inequality prevailing -with the richest 1% in India now owning more than 40% of the country’s total wealth while the bottom half of the population share just 3% of this wealth- needs to be urgently corrected. This requires a deep understanding and clarity about the direction to take.
In a globalised world, no country can plan its economic trajectory in isolation. Learning from others experiences and tweaking them to suit our interests, seems to be the direction to take whilst remaining focused on our ground realities.
The easiest way forward seems to be urgently improving the educational attainments and training of the work force. This is where we are abysmally lagging behind advance economies. India has one of the least trained manpower amongst the well performing economies. On paper, we have roughly fifteen percent of our workforce having some sort of training but in reality the level of our workforce’s skills are far from satisfactory. We needed to urgently equip our fifty crore workforce with all the requisite skills to enable them to deliver the required levels of output in a time bound manner. Only then will we attain the necessary economic development goals. We have lagged behind in achieving the targets so far. There is a critical need to prioritise the skill development programmes and to ensure that skill upgradation schemes do not meet the same tragic fate of our other programmes. The future of India depends on the speed of our economic growth , as a country with the highest population on the planet can no longer aspire to a GDP of only three trillion dollars.
With the number of working hands at our disposal , we should have achieved a GDP of at least fifteen trillion dollars by now. Governments at the centre and in the states must reflect over the failures of the past and must take corrective actions expeditiously . Adam Smith ,the father of economics, wrote that the wealth of nations is not only their gold and silver and other possessions but the quality of manpower that the country possesses. Let us optimise this preciously abundant wealth judiciously.
(Vijay Shankar Pandey is former Secretary Government of India)