Only economic experts can’t do it either!

Political leadership is required to inspire and promote agriculture, equity that is justice and all round economic development and thereby economic growth.

A bit long-winded? Yes, it is! But then in India there are now many contradictions in our serious governance mechanism.  Why? And how?

Here are some plain-speaking words and wisdom!

In a recent book or in fact two books, some of India’s and even world-knowing names like Amartya Sen and Jagadish Bhagwathi and their colleagues, one the Danish-born  Jean Dreze and another Arvind Panagriya, have produced books and enough newspaper columns to argue why India with all its impressive credentials, regular and fair general elections, free press, democracy, multi-parties and  a really genuine a sort of liberal society, liberal democracy and yet India is home to the largest poor, poor children, highly risky infant and maternal health indicators.

Is this really enough growth, ask Sen and Jean Dreze. Prof.Dreaze is also a member of Sonia Gandhi led National Advisory Council. So, Sen seems to say much that is not good with his own friend and colleague-led UPA!

And in another book by Bhagwathi and Panagriya, they argue there is nothing wrong with the government policies, there must be more role for the private sector, more free market economic policies, more open trade and more FDI etc.

In fact, these two views are not exclusive of each other, both are there already in the Indian policy radar. The only question is how much or how less is the role for one or all of these policies and perspectives. Our view at the Vadamalai Media, committed to promoting a more progressive agriculture sector and also many agriculture, rural economy and rural India-focused policies. As well as for really faster economic growth, urbanisation, rise of the new middle classes, why even for creating such high tech industry employment like IT/BT etc, we have not much differences with the economic experts we have cited here.

Our only and really only big difference is that economists alone, that is by professional academic or government economists alone can’t give the right diagnosis or guidance to actual policy making. Policy making means, and calls for political inputs.

In the instant case, it is the policy paralysis, weak governance, why even corruption-ridden governance, thanks to the inevitable coalition politics where the allies, often driven by their own regional ethnic compulsions, are forced to bring in men and women into politics, parliament and also into the ministries are often totally unqualified to hold even a minor portfolio.

But we have the irony of such good for nothings holding highly technical portfolios like telecom and even such highly difficult portfolios like coal and even fertilisers and chemicals.

We can see what harms they had brought upon these portfolios and also the huge loss to the government.2-G and Coalgate are the two everlasting ignomies on the current government in New Delhi, right?

So, we need political corrections in economic management.
An also real talents and competency. Sometimes one wonders whether these are the real policy making expertise of this government. Why democracy matters in India? Democracy is an open society.

But unfortunately, we have also reduced democracy today to an coterie affair. We haven’t also mastered the role of private sector in the liberal economy management. We have so many arbitrary exercise of power.

The very party structure is undemocratic. So many operators as ministers. So, there is unwarrantable extent of corruption at the top.So, we need a series of political reforms, even before the economic reforms. So, we can make Indian agriculture a dynamic sector. It already is in one sense.

We have to make our economic growth also dynamic. So, poverty persists for various reasons. No popular touch. No people elected leaders. So, we need not just economic arguments, as Sen and Dreze do. We need a more comprehensive political and economic analysis and also some wisdom, not picking up holes. But also suggesting bold and constructive policy alternatives!
Farm subsidies must also be rationalised. American farm subsidies is in the range of one trillion over a decade.

Agriculture everywhere, in all countries are such a sensitive issue and both producers and the consumers and their interests have to be balanced. Yes, education, healthcare and much else needs to be fine-tuned. But we can’t become a Sweden in one day.

How to motivate and lead the people and make sure there is all round satisfaction. That is political wisdom. It comes to true leaders only.

 

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