Someone commented in the 1950s:
‘(When I think of India) I think of impoverished, ignorant fanatics, teeming masses, no education, bizarre religious practices……’
India and Indians travelled far and wide in time and space. The biggest critics of India now are Indians themselves. Some of the Indians who are fortunate to travel or stay abroad come back and shout: ‘What a wretched country is this? What an inefficient government we have here? Poor infrastructure, undeveloped villages, beggary, unemployment, and crowded roads! No discipline whatsoever!’ But with which countries they are comparing? The comparisons are always with less populated countries with huge natural resources, historically prosperous and with a much earlier technological advantage.
Whether Indians recognize this or not, whether others admit this or not, India is a miracle. India’s growth is unique and without any parallel across the globe. It takes its steps up in the ladder of development and prosperity with a huge population of 1210 million. India can be compared only with itself, as there is no other country with such complex characteristic features that are critical for growth. Just for the sake of comparison, one could possibly compare it with China in terms of the demography. While China has a population density of 143, India has a density of 382, almost triple that of China.
Anyone who looks down upon India should first appreciate its strengths.
Which large country in the world has grown so rapidly in the last several decades? And this has been achieved in spite of numerous historical, geographic, demographic, social, cultural, political and economic challenges. The country was subjected to external aggression and subjugation of a large number of rulers and powers for centuries. It had hundreds of little kingdoms and rulers fighting each other, most of them with tacit support from foreign empires. Its resources were plundered to alien countries and its cultural heritage was partially destroyed. It had to face the bitterest partition. Which country in the world was ransacked so extensively by rulers after rulers?
Which country in the world has faced a combination of challenges related to various structural, cultural, social, and political heterogeneity?
- More than 1200 castes and much more sub-castes
- More than 700 tribes and much more sub-tribes
- About 10 religious communities
- 6 National political parties, about 60 State parties and more than 1100 unrecognized political parties
- More than 6, 00,000 villages, far and wide with diverse customs, traditions and conventions
- Linguistically divided states.
- People who communicate in 22 recognized languages and over 1600 mother tongues: the main language Hindi alone has about 50 different versions
- Substantial part of the population lives in rural areas and their subsistence is agriculture.
- About 25% of the population are designated as belonging to backward communities as per different schedules.
- People of the country have strong diverse primordial, religious, social, and regional loyalties.
- Added to the above complexities, India has been facing several deep rooted malaises emanated from sectarian, corrupt, crafty, and destabilizing forces that have origins in India and elsewhere.
In spite of all odds…
With all the above growth retarding elements, India has emerged as a global leader. Before criticizing the country as having poor score in corruption index and development index, one should understand the strides it took in spite of all the challenges!
Start with the robust democracy and the successful 15 general elections! With more than 1200 small and big political parties and hundreds of communities at loggerheads, we never failed to elect our leaders in the most transparent manner. No scope for coup, dictatorship, anarchy, or fascism in this country. If we could remember the last elections, parties canvassed about 714 million voters in the most peaceful manner. About 417 million people walked to the ballot box to exercise their votes without any fear or threat. Even when terrorists shot dead their national leaders twice, the country never shook a bit. It regained its strength. All parties rallied together for protecting the country and it continued to be a unitary force.
From a country with less than 20% literates before its independence, India has become a country with about 74% literates in 2012. Only less than 7% who belong to the scheduled tribes in the country were literates. Now the country created a record by making it around 48% in 2012. 80% of urban female population and 59% of rural female population are literates. Very few countries with similar conditions have achieved such a sharp rate of growth in literacy.
Country could provide banking facilities to about 59% of the population, which is a rare achievement in a large country like India. More than 63% of the population has access to their own telephones/mobile phones. 116 million households have television. More than 23 million households have computers or laptops.
US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in its report entitled ‘Rising above the gathering storm’ used the word storm to refer to India and China. It said these countries have become challenges to US as the global leader in Science. Don’t forget the fact that it was the Indian scientist J C Bose who demonstrated to the world as early as in 1895 that communication signals could be sent through electromagnetic waves, without the use of wires. This unique invention done in Calcutta is the secret behind today’s cell phone technology. Indian scientists are occupying important positions globally now. Yes, the country has many scholars who have the potential to become another C V Raman or Srinivasa Ramanujan.
World Bank Global Economic Prospect’s Report released on 15th January 2013, says that global economy remains fragile as high income countries continue to suffer from volatility and slow growth. But as per the above report, the prospects for the developing countries like India remain solid. Growth in high income countries remained weak with an estimated GDP growth of 1.3% in 2002, and it is expected to remain there itself in 2013 also. But developing countries recorded a growth of 5.1% and projected to expand by 5.5% in 2013 and 5.8% in 2014. The above report says that the GDP growth is expected to grow to 7.3% in 2015 in India (at factor cost), driven by policy reforms, stronger investment activity etc. The report projects that India’s growth will remain relatively high by global standards, and the country is likely to remain an attractive destination for global investors looking for long term results.
A very optimistic reaction has come from Kaushik Basu, the Chief Economist, World Bank that India will reach 8.5% to 9% growth in 2 years.
Statistics say that most of the advanced countries of US and Europe are the least safe countries (related to crimes) in the world. It is reported that India, though economically not very sound, is far safer as compared to several advanced countries.
Going to overtake China soon!
If the present growth continues, India will definitely overtake China; not in terms of population, but in terms of productive population and overall productivity. The advantage India has is the sizable population in the age group 0 to 14 now, whereas China’s huge chunk is in the age group 40 to 59. Therefore it is predicted that India will have comparatively more population in the productive age group in the coming decades than China.
According the economist Douglas McWilliams, India will overtake China in less than 40 years. NationalIntelligence Council, a US Government entity in its Global Trends 2030 Report predicts that China and India will overpower long reigning US and EU in the coming decade. Bloomberg Business Week predicts that by 2020, India will have the capacity to spend $22.5 trillion dollars on goods and services.
Population is an asset: Need a proper HRM policy
Population is not a liability; it is India’s greatest asset. With 65% of population in the productive age group of 15 to 59, country needs to develop a proper human resources management policy and device strategies for effective deployment of this precious resource.
How long India will take to make the ‘under privileged’ people, privileged?
Around 36% of the people of the country are living below the poverty line. 52% of Scheduled tribes in rural areas and 41.4% of Scheduled Tribes in urban areas live below poverty line.
Allowing liberal incentives and tax holidays to all those who setup industries that promote employment and boost growth in villages would be a good option. India can become a global supplier of not only people but also various products. There are several potential areas. For example India, a country with more than 90 crores mobile subscriptions (second in the world) imports more than 80% of telecom related equipment. It is necessary to develop domestic hubs for manufacturing.
Exclusive ministry for welfare of Senior Citizens
We have about 9% of the population who are senior citizens. Most of the senior citizens live with various social, economic and health issues. The country needs to focus on their welfare. India requires a full-fledged ministry to plan and implement policies that make the life of senior citizens better.
Needs to deliberate on taking certain tough decisions
Large scale expansion of e-banking and making all transactions through banking channels are necessary. Creating one more tax slab for the super-rich, taxing all religious, charitable and educational entities with a minimum tax rate, taxing recipients of agricultural income of more than a specified limit etc. are worth examining. Instead of borrowing from global institutions and financial markets, corporates with huge funds may consider funding major infrastructural projects of government with lesser interest rates. Corporate Social Responsibility projects should be implemented by large corporate houses at macro level where their large contributions are visible and enduring. Country should make use of the advances in information technology and competent human resources, and encourage setting up of manpower-intensive outsourcing companies in the country for entities in advanced countries through appropriate policy intervention. It would be appropriate to optimize the number of employees by redeploying the manpower of government departments and Public Sector Units to new projects or by setting up platforms for entrepreneurship. It would be ideal, if the tenure of future recruitments in the government is limited to contracts of 10, 15 and 20 years so that inefficient ones are eliminated. There can be more lateral intakes so that efficient and competent persons will be always in demand. This will bring in work ethics in government.
Credit for India’s remarkable progress goes to….
An incisive analysis of the trajectory India has taken to achieve radical transformation indicates that the credit for the remarkable progress largely goes to the unique cultural and social traits of this country. May be, we can call it the Indian mindset, which constitutes both positives and negatives.
Here are those positive dimensions of the Indian psyche:
An unlimited spirit of inquiry, a fair degree of openness, tolerance without compromising on the convictions, absence of uncontrolled greed, reverence to culture and nature, priority for cooperation rather than competition, no undue regard for materialistic success, and a culture that endorses modesty, strong kinship and social ties, generosity, and spiritual quest. These traits and values are indeed embedded in the legal foundations, institutional structures, and collective conscience of the Indian society.
First, let all Indians take pride in their great nation! Next, work to make it better!
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