He may well have a point. But, I would like to hear Mr. Debroy out- not that I would do so and not that he would oblige me, even if I tried — before I criticise him for his public criticism of the government. But, my friend has a point and that is reflected in this article.
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All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the Carnegie Endowment. To order, contact: Hopkins Fulfillment Service P. Tellis, Reece Trevor, editors. ISBN pbk. Public administration--India. Administrative agencies--India. India--Social policy. India--Economic policy. India--Politics and governmentst century. India--Economic conditionsst century. Debroy, Bibek, editor of compilation. Tellis, Ashley J.
G44 A dramatic economic boom, with annual growth rates approaching 10 percent, was well under way. Today, these lofty hopes have receded. Slower growth will also frustrate the ambitions of millions of well-educated young people and dim the hopes of many more without access to the education they need to succeed. A litany of permissions and clearances stands in the way of many new business enterprises, civil society initiatives, or nonprofit ventures.
In an age when it is eminently possible to surmount these structural deficiencies, ix. For India to recover its economic dynamism, finding a path forward takes on a new urgency. The general elections offer India an opportunity to seriously rethink its policies. The experts brought together in Getting India Back on Track represent some of the most incisive policy minds working on India today.
They are experts, commentators, and practitioners—and often all three at once. Their individual insights and recommendations have been drawn together and multiplied through the masterful curation of Bibek Debroy, Ashley J. Tellis, and Reece Trevor. It is commendable that this effort has been undertaken by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Carnegie has a rich tradition of scholarly research focused on policy innovation. Its global presence brings insight and ideas from success elsewhere, and its expertise on South Asia is deep and broad. A national conversation will help to provide a crucible for new ideas and a new commitment to change that could restore India to the path of growth and prosperity. Mathews, and me in New Delhi last year.
Since that original conversation, we profited greatly from further ideas offered by Sunjoy Joshi, K. George Perkovich carefully read all the chapters and offered thoughtful suggestions on both presentation and substance.
Marcia Kramer is owed a great debt for her incisive editing, no mean task given the diversity of approaches and voices represented in the volume. Jocelyn Soly designed the wonderful cover and brochures that accompany this book.
Bibek Debroy has been a magnificent colleague, giving generously of his time and his intellectual energy, despite his many other obligations. Without him, Bibek and I would have found this book impossible to produce. Opinion survey after opinion survey in the prelude to the polls has suggested a deeply rooted yearning for change. As long as that was the case, elevated growth sustained for long periods of time was only a dream. Such an effort will be doomed to failure if these rewards cannot be produced through continuing growth.
That leads inexorably to the question of what must be done to recover momentum when the new government takes office. This volume represents a small effort undertaken by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace toward answering that question.
Obviously, the solutions proffered to such a deceptively simple query can materialize at many levels. After some reflection, the editors of this book concluded that the most useful contribution would consist of relatively short, focused essays that examined key aspects of mainly though not exclusively the Indian economy, whose continued reform would be central to accelerating growth.
The topics covered, accordingly, range from agriculture and the environment to infrastructure and manufacturing to politico-bureaucratic processes and strategic partnerships abroad. Altogether, the seventeen chapters collected here offer wide-ranging analyses that lead uniformly to specific policy suggestions in each issue area for the consideration of the next government. Rather, they are oriented principally toward what can be achieved in the short term, meaning the life of the 16th Lok Sabha, on the assumption that it will serve a full constitutional term in office.
The conclusions emerging from such a diverse body of analysis are impossible to summarize in any introduction. To the degree that common themes can be culled, the various essays in different ways emphasize the imperatives of continued reform for both economic and strategic reasons; the criticality of returning to the path of high growth and the centrality of markets in the process; the importance of appropriately strengthening key state institutions; the priority of getting the details right for the success of future reforms; and, finally, the necessity of purposive action at the state level, given both the relevant constitutional mandates and the steady shift in power from the central government to the states.
Above all, the essays in this volume consistently look forward, to necessary tasks that are yet to be completed. When India received its independence in , many skeptics doubted that such a country marked by crushing poverty, bewildering diversities, and weak institutions could long endure.
It is no more a united nation than the Equator. This monumentally ambitious project was erected on a distinctive triadic foundation of liberal democracy, civic nationalism, and socialist economics. These three components were intended to be mutually reinforcing. That India was a great civilization was to them an evident and acknowledged fact. But transforming this venerable entity into a great power in the contemporary sense—one that would possess the capacity to exert wide influence beyond its own borders— would require India to become the paragon of a new political order.
The success of this order would hinge fundamentally on its ability to produce rapid growth and meaningful development, which would eliminate mass poverty while bringing justice and dignity to millions of socially disenfranchised Indians. These citizens would continue to associate peacefully with their well-to-do countrymen, making decisions about their common future through a system of universal franchise that, whatever outcomes it produced, would be sufficiently respectful of the identities and preferences of the diverse people who made up this new nation.
By that very fact it could then lay claim to a seat at the global high tables, where it would participate in making the rules that advanced its vision of a just and peaceful international order. That, in turn, was judged to be a prerequisite for mustering both great-power capabilities and wider international approbation. The historical record suggests, however, that those who held these views proved right on only two of the three counts.
The stunning diversity of. By adopting such a framework, India enshrined the twin components that mark all real democracies: contestation, or the peaceful struggle for power through an orderly process that confirms the preferences of the polity, and participation, or the right of all adult citizens, irrespective of wealth, gender, religion, or ethnicity, to vote for a government of their choice. But India went further, much further—and largely for the good. And this cohesion has been produced for the most part by peaceful means.
The ubiquitous familiarity of the Indian identity today often masks the difficulties that went into its making. Despite the broad cultural unity of the region, its inhabitants invariably defined themselves by their ethnicity usually marked by language , their religion with further reference to caste , or their political membership as subjects of the local kingdoms they resided in. Often they identified themselves by all three, and sometimes through even more attributes, simultaneously.
These diversities, far from being obliterated, acquired salience depending on context but, being enmeshed and freeflowing, they erased the boundaries between the insular and national identities, congealing the latter even as they preserved the former.
The modern Indian polity, therefore, emerged not as a nation-state—since, given its myriad diversities, it could not be so—but rather as a nationsstate. However confusing that reality may be to the outside world, it is authentically and indisputably Indian. Some sixty-plus years later, it is clear that this new identity has survived precisely because the self-governing system of rule it has spawned was anchored sturdily in a civic rather than a parochial nationalism. This did not imply that the particularities themselves ceased to exist or that they ceased to provoke contention.
Rather, they simply ceased to be privileged attributes that endowed their possessors with either greater rights or natural claims on power—at least as a matter of principle. But the success of Indian nationalism since was not intended to be measured by the brute criterion of physical persistence alone.
In fact, ever since the Great Depression, socialist ideas increasingly came to be seen as a viable alternative to market capitalism. Furthermore, the visible success of the Soviet Union, which had transformed itself from a feudal society into an industrial economy within the space of a few decades, seemed to prove the superiority of centralized planning and state control over the means of production and distribution sufficiently enough that many newly independent nations in the s voluntarily adopted socialism as the ideology for organizing their own economies.
In early postindependence India, the urgent necessity of quickly overcoming vast poverty made the allure of socialism even more enticing. If the material foundations of the new Indian nation were to be rapidly rebuilt in the aftermath of independence, a socialist reorganization of the Indian economy was thus inevitable so long as Nehru—given his convictions—remained at the helm.
Given his strong democratic temper, however, Indian socialism would involve neither a violent decapitation of the capitalist classes nor a systematic nationalization of existing capital stocks. In fact, it permitted the existence of a private sector, but unfortunately one that would enjoy only restricted opportunities in an economy that would come to be dominated by the state.
But because the imperatives that drove this domination were colored greatly by the desire to make India a conventional great power, Indian socialism took the form of a state-dominated mixed economy oriented toward the acquisition of a heavy industrial base.
At its core lay a systematic effort at centralized planning that was intended not simply to provide strategic direction to the economy but also to increase the share of public investments through the energetic mobilization of national savings. Moreover, the explicit bias in Indian central planning toward self-reliance. That stifled whatever private initiative survived and, equally problematically, drove the taxable surpluses into the black market beyond the reach of the state.
Oddly, the obsession with creating a modern nation through statedominated planning, investment, and regulation resulted in a dreadful neglect of Indian agriculture and the informal sectors, where the majority of the Indian population found employment at the time of independence. The transformation of Indian agriculture—that great base of national employment, especially immediately after independence—actually required the fruits of capitalism for lasting success. The institutionalization of a well-ordered market system for bringing agricultural products to the final consumer would have elicited increased private investments in mechanization, biotechnology, irrigation, and fertilizers.
Instead, India embarked on tepid land reforms that served mainly to increase the. Coupled with the state interventions in food pricing and procurement, these policies have served only to retard the larger transformation of the primary sector of the Indian economy.
By masking the necessity for fundamental market reform, it resulted in the enthronement of an unsustainable production ecology. Today, thanks to subsidies, freebies, and highly regulated agricultural inputs, this production ecology dangerously threatens the public treasury.
Furthermore, it has failed to produce the output and productivity gains that the agricultural sector would have otherwise enjoyed under an alternative institutional regime. Parenthetically, the dominance of the informal sector in India is also a consequence of the restrictions imposed on large enterprises through insidious labor laws. Worse, the crushing state domination that slowly gathered steam in the remainder of the economy and in national life more generally did not produce sufficient gains overall to justify the policies emerging from the addiction to socialism.
These policies produced only meager increases in national output and were perversely accompanied by the growth of a vast bureaucracy that quickly became corrupt and stultifying. The s, however, became a turning point when the commitment to socialism steadily mutated from idealism into a sclerotic instrument of power and patronage. These endeavors did little to produce the economic transformation her father desired.
Instead, they exacerbated the economic and social divides within India and inaugurated the era of questionable entitlements with which the nation struggles to this day. By , the sorry results of the Indian socialist experiment were visible for all to see.
Debroy has made significant contributions to game theory, economic theory, income and social inequalities, poverty, law reforms, railway reforms and Indology among others. From its inception in January , till June , Mr. He was awarded the Padma Shri the fourth highest civilian honour in India in Debroy has authored over books in the field of Economics, Polity, Indology and Sanskrit. Debroy translated the unabridged version of Mahabharata , the great Indian epic, into English, becoming only the third person ever to achieve the feat. Debroy's translation of the Mahabharata was published in a series of 10 volumes amounting to 2.
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All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the Carnegie Endowment. To order, contact: Hopkins Fulfillment Service P. Tellis, Reece Trevor, editors. ISBN pbk. Public administration--India. Administrative agencies--India.