He can’t compare India with China! He should ask Indian achievers!

The Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh was in Bangalore recently. He met the state leaders, fine. Bangalore is the IT capital of India. Some of the best success stories in IT, Biotechnology are here. One doesn’t know what the PM had seen and learnt from the Bangalore’s successes, be it technology, or infrastructure. Bangalore is equally proud of its urban governance. So, from faster economic growth to urban infrastructure development to effective governance models, Bangalore can teach lots of lessons for the Central government.

Even in the planning processes, the IT CEOs have shared lots of thoughts with the public. Industry leaders like Azim Premji, Nandan Nilekani, Kiran Karnik, not to speak of the redoubtable Narayanamurthy are some of the achievers. Kiran Mazumdar is another achiever in the biotech sphere. One hopes the PM had taken back with him the thoughts and experiences of these leaders.

And yet, one sees the PM also talking, as he did not long ago, asking Indian industry to “emulate the China model!”

India’s great infrastructure needs massive funds. The previous NDA government under Vajpayee did make the big change. The National Highway Development Programme, flagged off in 1998, some 13,146 km of four/six lane highways is a big start. Now we have to build more such roads, airports and seaports. Yes, it is too early to judge the government. But then time is also running faster!

The PM said in a prestigious meeting of ‘Indian CEOs’ organised by Public Enterprises Selection Board, Bharat Petroleum Corporation, FICCI, CII, SCOPE. What the PM has in mind? Said he: Though India grew impressively over the past 15 years, “our share of world trade, our share of world gross domestic product our share of world exports is much too small compared with our nation’s potential and when we look at what a country like China has achieved in the last 20 years. I think that is the role model that we have to look at. We can’t be satisfied with status quo”. The PM also made some insightful observations of Indian character. Indians do well abroad (USA). Indians “think” well, don’t “do” well, he has said. All are finer sentiments. Welcome loud thinking. There are some basic issues here. We like to tell the Hon’ble PM, first, India is no China. India is a democracy. A very successful democracy, almost a role model for the rest of the world. China is dictatorship. Its one-time leader Zhao Ziyang, 85 who died recently was ousted from power and the crackdown on pro-democracy protestors in 1989 by using military tanks that killed hundreds of peaceful demonstrators would remain in the minds of people the world over for a very long time.

So, what China had done or not achieved, is not to be compared with India is doing. We consider such a comparison, rather a bland comparison is an insult to India’s many achievements and Indians’ pride. We hope the PM’s statement is an occasion when Indians, the educated elites, would give deep thought and needed correction, if not a needed criticism as well.

We haven’t yet got the big picture. The PM’s articulations of a coherent vision of economic liberalisation. More so, in our view, the articulation of the big hope, the big belief, the all-encompassing people’s enthusiams for a new beginning.

Unfortunately, there is in India an uncritical attitude towards China which, in the West and much of liberal world public opinion, is not seen a typical country, only an odd man out”. Also, China’s international role is causing much unease by its unprincipled export of nuclear missile technology exports to countries like Pakistan and other countries. So, we feel our Prime Minister’s thinking is not on sound perspectives. India needs much progress. But we have to take the painful course of thinking and doing things for ourselves and our economic and technological growth is not to be taken lightly.

Our policy makers now in power in Delhi, in our opinion, haven’t fully understood the many recent year’s achievements, more so in IT and related spheres. The policies now drawn up in Delhi seems to us not tuned to strengthen the country’s early lead in these “new economy” spheres. One more important point. The PM had spoken about more autonomy to the CEOs of PSUs. This is a tired theme. What we need hear from the PM is his views on disinvestments, privatisation and FDI inflows so that our companies become internationally competitive. These aspects of the pending issues have been left out by the PM’s latest pronouncements. The Finance Minister speaking at the meeting had asked industry leaders to come up with new ideas. He had the major national road networks are to be completed and asked the said 85 per cent of CEOs to think of new businesses along these structures. Fine!

The best one can think of are new IT parks, new integrated townships, and more IT related industry clusters. The IT firms are asking for more worked class infrastructure. Why not the PM/FM ask the IT captains, Narayanamurthys and Azim Premzis to sit with them and ask for ideas?

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