US President Barack Obama, in his maiden visit to India in November 2010 – spelled out his intentions quite well – his prophecy that India- US partnership will be the defining moment of the 21st century is greeted well by each one of us! (please read my earlier post on this aspect)
Well, nearly $10 billion transaction in the business circles happened during his 3 day visit to India! In addition, he promised to canvass for a permanent seat for India in the UN Security council besides bringing significant reforms in US exports’ policies towards India, quicker ‘high technology’ transfer, and building more trade in various new industries. Keeping in mind all of this, we look forward to the visit of the US commerce secretary Mr Gary Locke to New Delhi, this week.
Way back in 1991 – India was a protected and closed economy, totally insulated from global crests and troughs, problems and opportunities. Reforms that were started in 1991-92, by earlier finance minister Dr Manmohan Singh, have become a milestone achievement and serve as a benchmark for Asian and other developing countries to emulate! Licence/ Permit Raj was lifted and abolished with a precision like that of a surgeon on the operation table. Trade barriers and corporate taxes were brought down for the first time in India. The talent of Indian people was unleashed and consistent annual growth rate of 8 to 10 % became common in India, so much so that other developing countries were taken by surprise, by our achievements.
Today, there are 64 billionaires in India and nearly 45 million entrepreneurs – doing small businesses and others. Morgan Stanley – reports that by the year 2030, India will grow faster than any other large country of its size. This seems to me like a complete Cycle – wherein India and China contributed to 50% of the global business transactions in the 15th century; now again, India and China are rising to the top! Just like it happens in a giant wheel in the play-ground – going up and down with passage of time! Easily said, but there are challenges India has to face and most of them are intrinsic in their nature.
Education system, Infrastructure and other ‘growth’ enablers have to keep pace with the potential India has – in terms of manpower, trade and economic growth. Even today, the government – whether state or central are more like patrons in our country’s growth! We do not need patrons but the need of the hour is have an ‘enabler’ government filled with true ‘patriotic’, well educated visionaries like India had in the years before Independence as well during the first 15 years after our independence. Corruption has taken deep roots into our political/ social system due to our own oversight and neglect.
Multi-party system, like that in India, does not really help democracy in its practice – if there is in-fighting, horse trading of MLAs or MPs, coalitions formed after election results – to meet ‘personal’ politicians’ interests rather than values in politics! I like the approach of Rahul Gandhi, the Congress General secretary – building the ‘organization’ of his party first, so that it can enable better governance! There are tasks set by him to enroll the young and the educated in to his party as early as possible and it is clearly evident he is on the right path! He has the vision of building a better India!
United States of America – can take part in our country’s growth – by opening up free enterprises in each and every industrial sector in India. And, Gary Locke, US commerce secretary will be carrying with him a list of 24 US companies – willing to invest and take part in building new ventures in India. Agriculture is another area/ industry where the US can ignite the automation/ industrialization with its advanced technology presently used in US and suited to Indian requirements. Such automation will not steal jobs of the poor; but, it will train and enable them to be more productive than what they are at present, bringing more income and profits. Education – some of the best ‘Ivy league’ Universities (like Harvard, Stanford, UCLA) in the US intend to open their branches in India! This will start the process of reverse ‘brain drain’ in India.
Foreign participation need not create ‘unbounded’ fears in our mind, reminding us of ‘East India company’ days etc. We were only a collection of small kingdoms then; now we have a ‘rising’ economy, massive ‘well-recognised’ political structure, patriotic acts and laws in force, and above all, the largest elected democratic government in the world! We were not equipped earlier as we are today and we worked for the British then; today, we are talking of partnership with the US on equal terms.
Let us begin the process of globalization on a faster scale and enlarge our growth/ market opportunities globally! Let us open the door of partnership with US!