Economic change?

Not possible without a clear political will!

It is political will,rather than any economic wisdom that propels economic change. Economics in its grand design must be seen essentially as people’s hopes and aspirations.

Economic science or art may be about dry statistics or figures.But economic trnasformation calls for a vision and a drive for mobilising the vast mass of people and identifying the true leaders of change.
Economics decides and determines a country’s strength. Economic growth is what matters. G-8,G-20 are all indications of how developed countries see themselves. After USA, it is France and Germancy, the most economically developed countries. Then come other countries, Japan and the others.India is not one of the G-8. Now,economics is not talked much by politicians in India. Even Dr.Manmohan Singh’s” economics” seems no more than monetary management of the budget deficits,economic growth percentages etc. This is not serious economics.

Economics derives its relevance only when it helps the political strategy of the incumbent government. Thus,it is politically inspired economic strategy that matters. Thus, today, the globalised, market driven economic liberalisation, has to be driven as much by strict economoic parameters,as much by the peoples’ mandate. Only a Prime Minister with a clear political power backing can hope to transform an economy like India’s.The States are not only financially broke,there is the political mismatch. The Congress party too,as the driver in the seat is not able to carry the States in a true federal co-operation and active engagement to have a common, shared national outlook on critical economic questions.

Serious economics is about total economic transformation. Whether we like it or not, Mr.Vajpayee, in his wisdom took some bold steps like the National Highways Development and it triggered a whole lot of economic activity. Such a bold step in some critical economic sector is not yet taken by the Singh government.Not yet. There is understandably, some disquiet, some would say much disquiet, in some poltical circles, not only with the Left, about the too much confusion that is still marking the policies of the present government.It calls for serious strategic shifts in policies, resources allocations and managing the human resources and the economic sectors. In Manmohan Singh’s administration so far, I don’t see any visionary articulation or any grand projection of directions for the economy. Agriculture,rural India are nowhere in the ministers’minds.

For Manmohan as Prime Minister,what has he got so far to remember him? A professional economist who had spent a liftime as an ecnomic bureaucrat cant suddenly become a great economic visionary or a nation-builder.It is when a political leader who struggles through life and captures power would have the real political power and a conviction of transforming a people.People too in turn would respond to the many challenges and hard work that is called for economic transformation.We can see this happen under different political personalities,in all countries.In the case of Dr.Singh these ingredients are missing.Hence,after all these months in office this government hasnt started anything memorable.The people are not fired by any enthusiasm or hope or a sense of adventure in their lives.

It is often an advantage that a political leader is not conversant with too many economic niceities.What is called for is a bold vision and a deep conviction to change the face of the country.
This is sadly msising today.
This is my personal view.

Of course, economics alone doesnt win elections! It is politics,cheap populist policies and perceptions only lead to shifts of political power.There is every suspicion that this government itself might not last the whole term.So,the scene might hot up,economics may retreat,politics all might matter!It would be a pity,if economics takes a back seat. Ultimately, it is economics, economic policies, economic strategies, policies that are conducive for the creation of wealth : these policies only would matter.The new economy industries had made all the difference to India’s economic growth momentum and the perception of the outside world as India, the next big destination for sustainable development alternative in a dmocratic society.

Economics should not be an orthodoxy
Economics sometimes could become an orthodoxy. And so-called economic experts orthodox men and dogmatists. The Congress-led UPA government is still struggling to introduce any radical innovative policies,be it reforming the rigid bureaucracy,at the top as well as at the grass roots panchayat raj. Neither the current economic experts are able to understand the IT and what it can do for introducing transparancy in governance. The contradictory alliance partners have their own pet ideas and pet projects. The Leftists,by remaining outside the government, have not come out with any innovative policies either. They are caught in an old mindset. Even the Communists in China are grappling with some innovative language and strategies. Here, what we have got is an old orthodoxy that is dwarfing the minds of leaders to get to the ground-level realities.So,the coalition government pulls on.

Jyoti Basu
Jyoti Basu asks the Congress and the Left to be tolerant. Basu is a venerable name and his words are listened to carefully by all sections of the Indian people.

I first came to know his name when I went to study at Santiniketan and if I remember correctly he was a candidate at the Bolpur Assembly Constituency, I think in 1952 and as such my fellow Bengali friends used to talk about him much. It was something like E.M.S.Namboodiripad used to be talked about in those times. So,I was familiar with the Communists in Bengal for a long time. Thus, Basu was a typical bourgeos and he went on to rule West bengal, after the Ajay Mukerjee coalition fell (I was at that time working closely with Kamaraj in New Delhi and saw Ajay Mukerjee himself coming to plead with Kamaraj and the latter dismissing him!). Thus, in a way the over-confidence of the Congress bosses (I was also very close to Atulya Ghosh, the AICC treasurer) and I knew the whole episode that led to the fall and the coming of the Communists to power. Basu was a minister in Mukerjee’s coalition government.

Now, Basu is in retirement and as such he is more a father figure whose views dont carry much weight even within the Polit bureau.

Today’s Capitalism is not as exploitative as it was when the world’s economies were relatively undeveloped and isolated.Today,the finance capital moved across national bounbdaries and every country is desparately seeking FDI and it is not so easy.Also the IT and telecommunciations had accelerated ecopnomic development and there is enough statistics to show that the global economic inequality is getting reduced.The world’s people living in acute poverty(on less than a dollar a day)fell from 17% in 1970 to 7% in 1998;the proportion living on less than 2 dollar a day fell from 41% to 19%.The absolute headcount of global one-dollar a day poverty fell by 200 million,the 2 dollar a day number fell by 350million.There is even the view that the UN Millennium Development Goals on poverty,that is to bring the figures half the number in 2015 had more or less already reached.These figures are taken from The Economist Special Report.


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