India on the Fast Track

GDP growth estimated at a stunning 7.5 percent-plus in spite of the unprecedented recession.

Foreign exchange reserves at over 277$ Billion USD.

Mushrooming malls, improving telecom connectivity, booming industries.

Rivers and superhighways (concrete and wireless) criss-crossing the nation.

Radical economic and strategic pacts with the United States, the European Union, and Southeast Asia. Fast track special courts. Fast-track negotiations on nuclear deals. Fast track Young Scientists programme. Fast track Free Trade Agreements, fast track to eco-tourism! Do these just decorate drawing room talks, weekly magazines and text books? Is that all?

There is more this time!

There it is: in the passengers of the Mumbai local train, in the streets of old city of Hyderabad, in the faces of the nationals, in their whispers, in their articles, in their movies, in their songs, in their courage, in their hope, in their anger, in their will to fight, in their acknowledgement of the fact that this is much more than a boom..a feel good factor that we are now looking at a resurgent India, a socio-economic and military powerhouse striding firmly towards its rightful place in the world.

Yes, there are still millions with no access to potable water, electricity, decent housing or even good roads, literacy rates need to improve steeply and we must try hard to reduce the growing ecological ravages. But there is “hope” now! The Indian has realized that criticizing the system is a matter of pointless indulgence now. It is only a parochial sentiment.

And no amount of rhetoric or voluminous discussion can possibly diminish the overwhelming importance of the common Indian, and he seems to be feeling good now. Untouched in spirit, in soul; tears well in his eyes, but it stares these obstacles in their eye with the discovery that his hope is not only an orchestration of his mind.

E-Governance, networking communities and building collaborations between government and citizens, mainstreaming the rural people who are most disadvantaged and underprivileged, decentralization of the administration, monitoring and evaluating the developmental programmes that will ensure accountability and transparency in their implementation, people’s participation through cooperative societies, financial assistance and professional guidance to self help groups, accessibility to banking, improving transport and infrastructure, taking BPOs to smaller towns with fewer job opportunities, training the unemployed youth in vocational skills, promoting customized programs for youth and women in the age group of 18-30 years from economically weaker sections of society, and empowering them to gain access to opportunities for sustainable livelihoods and growth in the new economy, gainful employment contributing to the GDP growth, SEZs creating jobs and facilitating an environment for business, farmers becoming stakeholders in the SEZs, channelizing our resources, reinforcing and consolidating on our strengths, we are hopeful of marching forward with more wisdom, strength and ability to work for a better and brighter future.

With multi-faceted guidelines for development, enormous natural resources, abundant manpower, and rich cultural heritage, we Indians are empowered to realize our goal of a strong nation. We’re on our way and we are right on track.

The nations feels the pulses race, the seeming corpse has awakened to life and to power, and in an oddly quiet aggression is saying, “Yes, we can!”

In the Muslim neighbourhood clustered around Chandni Chowk, from behind the chick-blinds of her window, the widow is saying, “Yes, we can!”

Amidst his insistent rattle on ministerial resignations, the non-descript opposition member is saying, “Yes, we can!”

The strategy consultant, preparing his presentation speech: “We must take note of what resources and options are available to us and what is on the horizon”, is saying, “Yes, we can!”

The fancy-peddling young rickshaw-wallah who spent too much money on liquor last night is saying, “Yes, we can!”

The South Indian cabinet minister, speaking in a press conference: “We are working out strategies to propel affairs for the next decade if we study and understand the changes occurring in the present generation- which will determine our future” is saying, “Yes, we can!”

The school girls at the bus-stop, giggling uncontrollably at the prospect of saying something in unison, are saying, “Yes, we can!”

The Seth, shooing away the little clustered whirlwinds of flies around sweet-meat on his counter, is saying, “Yes, we can!”

The itinerant street vendor, packing berries for the little urchins in twists of paper, is saying, “Yes, we can!”

On the CST train platform, the clerk, standing wreathed in smoke, waiting for the 8:10, is saying, “Yes, we can!”

The flicker of candles lit to cement our belief that “we can”, the hope of the hundred million Muslims of India, the prayers of middle-aged ‘satsang’ women, the indignant voices of media reporters, the angry jostling of boys in bus-queues, the restless honking at traffic signals is saying,

“Yes, we can!”

And we will!

Team Black – MAFIA

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India to Bharat : Dilemma of looking inward

International trade between countries is a contentious issue. When it takes place in full swing, it involves a diligent task of balancing with the considerations of the domestic producers of both the sides. Any deviation from achieving this balance gives rise to lots of unrest. The Doha talks failed while the respective countries tried to safeguard their domestic interests. One hypothesis (still needs to be researched and tested) behind the increased attack on Indian students in Australia revolves around the job insecurity to Australian workers which the Indian students brings (yes they still do) with them. This hatred comes from the fact that the Indian students don’t bring any value in exchange to the people who lose jobs to them. We seldom hear the similar hatred towards an Indian doing/opening businesses overseas, not even in Australia; because they create more jobs than what they eat into while entering other businessmen’s space out there. We still see Alphonso mangoes from India getting exported all over the world especially the developed nations. Can’t these developed countries grow these mangoes in their own territory? They surely should be (or why else they are developed?) but why they don’t do so but rather import it from us, we who eat into hundreds of their jobs in the name (and hype?) of outsourcing?

And the same Alphonso mangoes most of the time are unaffordable within our own country. So what explains their exorbitant price inside the growing (and the host) nation. Is it because they are in high demand and that too in a ‘foran’ (can also be read and understood in Hindi, yes these countries pay immediately) nation? Every nation is different from each other in terms of climate, land, capital, labor and technology which is what also gives them their own unique capabilities. The mangoes can indeed been grown in a country say X but the resources required to do it might have been more efficiently employed to grow something else say coffee since X has favorable climate to grow coffee. The opportunity cost of producing mangoes within X is the amount of coffee that could be produced with the same resources which is high compared to the opportunity cost of growing the same in a nation like India. So, India is said to have a comparative advantage in producing mangoes while country X has comparative advantage in producing coffee and both tries to achieve the economies of scale in their respective areas of (low cost?) expertise. This is what tempts the nations in engaging themselves in international trades.

Outsourcing as a concept can be seen on similar lines. The bigwigs instead of spending their valuable time on the low end (and non-core) works started preferring to transfer them to cheaper options where the opportunity cost of getting involved in this kind of jobs was comparatively lower. In due course of time, China became the factory of the world while India the back-office and after the current recession with the fall of western economies, we are seeing a surge in reverse brain drain. This migration can lead to an increase in the number of jobs and innovations in the developing nations with corresponding decrease in the developed ones. So it is not advisable for a country to focus its exports or a company to target its product totally to developed economies. The focus in developing countries instead of being totally export-driven needs to shift to domestic consumption. This is what has happened in current recession which pulled us (though accidentally?) out of it. India saw increase in social sector spending and transfers more due to political compulsions (blessing in disguise? or our own indigenous way of solving our problems? or the Bharat as a nation just got lucky?) rather than any specific monetary or fiscal policies. When the farm loan waivers and fertilizer subsidies were announced, no one had any clue of the coming financial crisis. Implementations of Sixth pay commission (that too retrospectively) though not aimed but further improved the domestic spending. And then the government transfers through NREGS and Bharat Nirmaan schemes gave the final thrust.

One very notable development on account of government expenditure is that of Bihar which recently reported an 11% GDP growth, next only to Gujarat. The Bihar’s growth story has been by now covered by the likes of Wall Street Journal and Knowledge@Wharton. We can clearly see the increase in infrastructure spending (in the form of constructions) since 2004-05 onwards.

Bihar Growth Story Due to Construction Boom
Source : Economic Survey 2008-09, Finance Dept., Govt. of Bihar

And the days are gone when the central funds to the state remained unutilized.

But who has been the actual beneficiary of all these government spendings: the Bharat’s “aam aadmi” or the government itself which got re-elected? or the Indian economy? In management lingo, it’s been a win-win for all till now but can it remain so in long term? Will the model be able to sustain by itself? It cannot, given India’s rising budget deficit which is partly caused due to the kind of social spending mentioned above. The divestment spree and 3G spectrum sale can reduce the deficit to a certain level but what after that?

– Ajay Verma (Batch 2009-2011)