The movement from poverty to prosperity is a fascinating journey. The economic and social transformation is one of the themes of India Unbound.
Why did an Industrial Revolution elude us? Marx had predicted that the Railways would usher in an Industrial Revolution. Nehru, along with this planners, did attempt an Industrial Revolution. They did not encourage private enterprise. Instead they built public enterprise.
Gurcharan comments, “ they failed and India is still paying for their follies”. Interestingly, we had an agricultural Revolution, and we were not able to usher an Industrial Revolution. Gurcharan points to six things that have contributed to this failure.
- We have inherited an inward looking, import substituting path.
- We have set up a massive inefficient and monopolistic public sector
- We have over regulated private sector
- We have discouraged foreign capital and denied ourselves the benefit of technology
- We have over pampered organised labour
- We have ignored eduction, particularly girls/women who make up 50% of our population.
Gurucharan Das rightly contends, “ When Individuals blunder, it is unfortunate and their families go down. When rulers fail, it is a national tragedy”.
Hundreds of entrepreneurial successes have been born after reform. The new entrepreneurs have risen on the back of their talents, hard work and professional skills. This is reflective of the spirit of the age.
Liberalisation and Information economy work to India’s advantage and raise the hope that it may finally take off and transform the country.
Gurucharan Das contends, “India is like an elephant that has begun to lumber and move ahead. It will never have speed but it will have stamina. India might be more stable, peaceful and have a negotiated transition into the future. Although slower (than China), India is more likely to preserve its way of life and its civilisation of diversity, tolerance and spirituality against the onslaught of the global culture. If it does, then it is perhaps a wise elephant”.