Sunday, September 24, 2006

India's Future

India has been looked up along with China as the next power house in the international order along with being the growing economies in the world from the beginning of this century. Where there is no doubt on China, with its mass market, manufacturing power house and being the permanent member of UNSC it is firmly placed at the top end of the international order.

Though, India being a largest democracy in the world and when in the past was offered a place at the top end of international order refused to accept it. This was due to then prevalent conditions and issues in independent India like poverty, economic balance, skilled labour and self sustainability. In hindsight it seems we missed our chance, but to state the matter of fact our founding fathers wanted India to be self content and increase our capabilities before we take our place in the world order.

Lots of water has flow down the river ever since we India refused to accept a place in the world order. Events like green revolution, setting up of strong public sectors and to the latest opening up of economy thus starting the process of privatisation (after public sectors help strengthen our internal capabilities), ICT revolution and going nuclear along with the under pinning fabric of being the largest democracy in the world has now given us an opportunity to rightly take up or make our place in the world order.

Now that we have been presented with an opportunity, do we want to shy away from this, clearly NO, but how are we placed to make the most of this opportunity?

For some time I have been thinking, are we prepared to make the most of the opportunity or can I authoritatively say we can take up our place, though I have dreamt of this for a long time there are certain things which are still lingering, and until needs to be answered which in my view would be very critical in the coming years in achieving our ambition and rightful place in the world order. The parameters which are critical and needs to be answered are wealth generation, uniform wealth distribution, education and leadership.
Lets analyse factors that underpin these parameter and this might give us a better understanding on how and where does the future of India lies.

Economy: though country’s economy is growing at a steady pace of roughly 8% and this is again largely due to our finance ministers obsession with GDP. I can’t see any improvements in the standard of living improving among the length and breadth of the country: price rising impacting the common man, people dying of harsh environmental conditions, increasing urban-rural division, economic reforms at cross roads or rather at very slow pace, all these are not a very encouraging factor, but still we can placate ourselves with the FDI increasing and sections of society improving their standard of living if not the length and breadth of country.

Education: nearing 60yrs of independence we still have un-educated people, and literacy rate is roughly at 65%, which is not a very encouraging sign. Let’s not get confused literacy rate to access of quality education which is languishing at 34%. Along with this we have trouble at the domestic front on reservation, which can be convincingly argued that there needs reservation, but is the current reservation policy really addressing the need is another question which can be debated.

Employment: nearly 50% in India are still dependent on agricultural income, though in the last decade we have seen a raise in service industry being the largest job creator, still these jobs are being taken up by those 34% which have access to quality education. That means the larger part of India still depends on agriculture and other forms of employment which has proved not to sustaining.

Industry: there has been a windfall raise in ICT industry in India which has helped create job and pushed Indian economy to the brighter side of nearly 8%GDP. With this there is also automotive industry which is making its presence felt, but all this will not offer and create many jobs that could help wealth distribution, best these industries can sustain job creation and help in the standard of living of some sections of the society who have access to quality education, unlike Chinese economy which is driven by manufacturing which creates and employs more people than our economy which is largely driven by service industry.

Political leadership: this is an area which needs immediate attention, for long India was associated with aging leader with young and bright vision and dreams; this served us well for some time in establishing India as the largest democracy and made India stand on its on steam. Looking at the current political scenario where personal gains or caste/vote bank politics/communal politics being the norm of the day the situation in the country really alarms. We don’t mind ageing leadership but…what is glaringly missing is the vision and leadership to take India forward to achieve our place in the international order. Current India parliament has a hand few of people who have the right credentials and or at least vision to lead India to the future; this is the most worrying factor.

Just glancing at the above factors it makes me think and re-question myself asking “can we can make the most of the opportunity that is there to be taken”. There can’t be any miracles overnight to catapult India an its dreams to reality, but the only way forward is to address these issues and move forward, this again brings me back to my question India’s Future – to realise every Indian dream, though there is potential there needs to be a plan and implementation strategy to achieve the dreams.

Let’s not ask what the country has done for us, but rather ask us what we can do for the country – India’s future, answer lies with us.

No comments: