Don’t close the tab :p……plz read through, the topic may seem redundant and monotonous, but I promise to make it interesting 🙂 checkout the podcast if you don’t want to read further
I clearly remember the time when Anna Hazare shook the country demanding end of corruption, urging the government to bring in black money stashed abroad and end corruption by bringing in the Lokpal bill. I sensed a vibe of optimism in the atmosphere and I could feel the trust every Indian had in the power of the archetypal ‘Marathi Manoos’, which Anna Hazare represented. This septuagenarian had brought the whole government to a standstill and created a unprecedented upheaval among the bourgeois(too many big words eh ?). But would this change things ? …..Yes and No …..nothing changed on the paper as the Lokpal bill brought in was highly diluted, black money continues to be stashed abroad and as recent research has seen most of the money has been infact brought back to India and placed where our ancestors hid their wealth(under the bed :P)(under the cradle for RaGa ). So the black money abroad has now turned into black money in India, which will inturn fuel inflation(rise in prices). The government brought in a legislation which gave an option to people to declare their assets abroad within 60 days and pay the taxes or face prosecution. But the people know that the government will never be able to catch them, so only 60 people opted for the clearance window. Well the optimism now is over and the gloom is back, Indians have clearly understood that the !5 lakh of black money promised to each Indian isn’t going to materialize 😥 , unless of course one of their family members commits suicide :P. Sorry to sound so cynical but I hope I could tell you otherwise.
But on the flipside there is a lot being done(atleast talked about) by this government. I mean they brought in a bunch of amazing programmes like the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Make in India, Skill India, Digital India, Start Up India-Stand up India (not making this name up 😛 ), deciding to cup red tape, stock market reforms, increasing foreign investment etc. I could keep giving you names and you could go to sleep. But how many of them are actually working, not many. No time to analyse all of them, but I will try to tell you the story from my perspective and try not to use economic jargon 🙂 .
So this one day my dad and I were on the way from Bhubaneshwar to Berhampur, and my Dad decided to stop at a cashew processing unit and have a chat with the owner of the unit, and old acquaintance(with a covert intent to get some fresh cashews 😛 ). My dad is a champion of small scale industry rights in the region and at a time held the position of the working Vice President of the Chamber of Odisha Industries. The man decided to pour his heart out(referring to my Dad as ‘Bhaina’) and talked about how the babu’s had made life hell with inspections and hafta vasuli(weekly informal tax 😛 ) and how the cashew cooperative the government had opened in the region to increase their profits was actually becoming a competitor of the indigenous industries. My dad proceeded to give him Oracle advice which I mostly didn’t understand (because of my apathy to business) but what I got out of it was the government built infrastructure was infact proving detrimental to the interests of the people. The man having satisfied himself and having derived a promise from my dad to take up the matter with the District Industries Corporation, brought cashews for us and we bid goodbye. The man patted my back and said once you become a lawyer it will be a great help :P( more casually than seriously). But what struck me was the contrast. I had come back after my economics exam and the story of AMUL in Gujarat was fresh in my mind. I asked my dad who told me for every Amul that succeeds; there are thousand cooperatives that fail, primarily because of government red tape. As we rode down we saw trucks lined up infront of Berhampur. The municipality was collecting octroi(municipality tax) and I thought about how many suck octrois would a truck have to pay before reaching its destination. The government tried improving the ease of doing business on the paper, but ground obstacles hindered progress.
It was first in 1991 that the Congress government, with Manmohan Singh brought in reforms which would improve the economy( this man has done more for the country than facebook trolls tell you :P). Consequent governments either added to that or sometimes spoilt the economy. What India needs now is a strong government I do no mean a dictatorship. Strong means a state with the power to enforce law and order, control corruption and ensure taxes are paid. We may glorify the democracy of India and talk in lengths about the beauty of the Indian constitution and india’s demographic dividend but all this would be for nothing if we are unable to achieve growth, and curb poverty. India today is growing despite the government not because of it . This new government gives us hope, sure, but unless growth has visible manifestations all across the country, all attempts are futile.
Another crucial aspect would be leveraging technology for growth. Pre-British India lacked modern technology that is why they succeeded in crippling Indian industries. History repeats itself and this time the empire can strike back, only this time the empire will serve you chicken with a white man with beard on the cover :p (not against KFC ,,,was just making a point J ). Open the country to foreigners sure, but ensure that you don’t shut down green chillies 😛 , because I love that too.
Raghuram Rajan, the Reserve Bank governor is the coolest banker I have ever seen. “My name is Raghuram Rajan and I do what I do”, he says( James Bond turns banker 😛 ). We must also understand that RBI has a crucial role to play in the economy’s monetary policy. This calls for a more impartial and apolitical body and hope the reforms will be satisfactory. While they toil hard to control inflation and make sense of out of bad loans, we must give them credit for it.(Bdw RRR has a cool signature check it out on a note 😛 )
Improving the judiciary will be another crucial thing. Only if laws are respected in the country, will the common man derive enough strength to do business. The lower judiciary is still corrupt and can be bribed which destroys chances of a poorman achieving justice.( objection overruled 😛 ). This is where all of us have a part to play. Contribute to your nearest legal aid office or NGO to help those deprived of justice.(Send a little money to this poor blogger too )
At the end I would like to say
Corruption, embezzlement, fraud, exist everywhere. What successful economics does is keep it to a minimum.
The defence rests :).