Instill wisdom into reforms

The solution lies in giving gainful employment to 60 per cent of villagers in villages.

The recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) suggests that if India continues its recent growth, the average household incomes will triple over the next two decades and India will become the world’s 5th-largest consumer economy by 2025, from its present 12th position.

A top official of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has said India’s economic growth is mainly due to increasing purchasing power of the people and is less dependent on external factors. 

In sharp contrast, the international rating agency Moody’s has predicted a lower Indian economic growth at 5.5 per cent during 2012 citing the “turbulent” global conditions, domestic policy “mis-steps” and a poor monsoon. In spite of various global agencies’ reports on growth, India’s share in the world GDP has doubled from 2.5 per cent in 1980 to 5.5 per cent in 2010. The Economic Survey estimates that the growth will touch 7.6 per cent in 2012-13 and 8.6 per cent in 2013-14.

Living condition

The question is why the billions of dollars gained has not improved the living condition of the majority of the Indians.  As per Global Hunger Index list, India ranks at 67th and is above 54 African nations. 

When the Tendulkar Committee found 37 per cent of people in India live below poverty line, the Arjun Sengupta Report found 77 per cent of Indians manage with less than Rs 20 a day. A recent study by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative found 53.7 per cent of Indian population live in poverty of which 28.6 per cent face severe poverty.

The point is whether our economic reform has gone berserk. A study on India’s Research output and collaboration conducted by Thomson Reuters found India contributed a meager 3.5 per cent of global research output in 2010. In computer sciences, our contribution is only 2.4 per cent, in Maths 2 per cent, in Material Science 6.4 per cent, in molecular biology 2.1 per cent, in clinical medicine 1.9 per cent, in Agriculture Sciences – 1.6 per cent. China’s contribution is more than triple of India’s share. 

This is the main reason why we have failed to make high end products to become a developed nation. We have lost inestimable dollars in shipping our precious minerals to other nations.  India still imports 60 per cent of its military requirements.

T T Narendran, Professor of IIT, Madras in his article ‘Anyone worried about what is wrong in our education’ published in a paper said in the sphere of product development India’s record is dismal. In the first 35 years of independence, Indians brought copied (with or without permission) and turned out the same products decade after decade. After liberalisation in the 90s, new products were rarely developed. This has made the nation permanently depend on others.

Prime minister, Manmohan Singh said the subsidy on petroleum products would touch Rs 2.00 lakh crore this year from Rs 1.40 crore last year if we don’t hike diesel price.  Footpaths and cycle track in urban centers could drastically reduce the use of fossil fuel. As the majority of urban workforce commute less than 20 km per day, they can easily cover the distance by cycles. 

The first Bike City in the world, Copenhagen has made over 390 km stretch of bike lanes which saves fossil fuel and contributes immensely to Denmark’s economy.  Many European countries follow suits and constructed cycle tracks to make cities more livable.

Why India is encouraging policy that increases the sale of automobiles when the nation has to cough up Rs 2.00 lakh crore subsidy towards petroleum products. More than 1,20,000 automobiles are registered in Pune every year due to lack of quality public transport system. Footpath has almost disappeared in most parts of the city.  Hyderabad and other Indian metros face similar problems.

In fact, the solution to urban chaos is not flyovers, sky walk, rapid bus transport system, electric trains, magnetic trains or metro rail. The average speed of car in old London city is less than 12 km per hour in spite of all kinds of advanced mode of transports. Actually, the solution lies in giving gainful employment to 60 per cent of villagers in villages. 

India’s more than 48 crore people depending on non agriculture sectors are big enough to meet the demand of industry and services sectors. It is an economic suicide to turn the entire population into the global cheap labor force which will ultimately turn land, ground water and air unsuitable for human consumption.

Indian political class must converge to address these national issues instead of making it their poll plank.

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