I read Ft regularly. The latest issue of Saturday July 13, 2013 I read on my blog as well in print the next day in India.
On Amertya Se and Jean Dreze, I am afraid what Ramchandra Guha says is only partly relevant and the rest is readable for what it is worth. The book by Sen and Dreze is neither pure economics nor purely policy analysis.
It is also doesn’t boldly face the realities that is India. Now, at this point of time after some 9 years of Manmohan Singh tenure to ask for a more activist state is something of a Leftist bogey. Nor to leave out the real achievements is also to score points over the fellow economists who are now a large number.
India is now compared with China, Sen himself has been doing this for long. China is a Communist country while India is an open democracy. This no one points out again openly. Of course, there are deficiencies in the Indian context. But this is mainly owing to the peculiar nature of the Indian polity where the Congress party head, Sonia Gandhi is exerting disproportionate influence over the governance of the state. It is now governance by ordinance. What India needs is a revival of the governance traditions with of course, the current issues taken into account.
Indian democracy getting stronger with regular five-yearly elections. This is the strongest case for the state as it is evolving. Private sector is gaining ground and this is what is making the economy more stronger.
Even in education and health, two issues on which Sen puts so much emphasis, what he misses is the growth of the private sector. Private schools at the elementary level have given much competition and also in health services, there is a vigorous private medical sector. And more important, there is the latest statistics to show that poverty in India is in steep decline, to almost 16 per cent in some states.
The most backward states include Sen’s own state and where there too his own district (where I went to college at almost the same time as Sen!)it is still much backward where school teachers don’t come in time!
But you see, Sen and Guha confuses what is being done by the government by way of heavy subsidies to a range of services to what is getting done in the pure economic sphere where there is a growing inequality, disparity of wealth. Then, this is a worldwide phenomenon; billionaires are growing in all emerging economies! The point is that there is widespread economic growth in all part of a vast country like India. Let us recognise and welcome this positive development.
Vadamalai Media Group