Saturday, October 30, 2010
Why are we in India so embarrassed to recognize our own strengths, our achievements? We are such a great nation. We have so many amazing success stories but we refuse to acknowledge them. Why?
We are the first in milk production.
We are number one in Remote sensing satellites.
We are the second largest producer of wheat.
We are the second largest producer of rice.
Look at Dr. Sudarshan, he has transferred the tribal village into a self-sustaining, self-driving unit. There are millions of such achievements but our media is only obsessed in the bad news and failures and disasters. I was in Tel Aviv once and I was reading the Israeli newspaper. It was the day after a lot of attacks and bombardments and deaths had taken place. The Hamas had struck. But the front page of the newspaper had the picture of a Jewish gentleman who in five years had transformed his desert into an orchid and a granary. It was this inspiring picture that everyone woke up to. The gory details of killings, bombardments, deaths, were inside in the newspaper, buried among other news.
In India we only read about death, sickness, terrorism, crime. Why are we so NEGATIVE? Another question: Why are we, as a nation so obsessed with foreign things? We want foreign T. Vs, we want foreign shirts. We want foreign technology.
Why this obsession with everything imported. Do we not realize that self-respect comes with self-reliance? I was in Hyderabad giving this lecture, when a 14 year old girl asked me for my autograph. I asked her what her goal in life is. She replied: I want to live in a developed India. For her, you and I will have to build this developed India. You must proclaim. India is not an under-developed nation; it is a highly developed nation. Do you have 10 minutes? Allow me to come back with a vengeance.
Got 10 minutes for your country? If yes, then read; otherwise, choice is yours.
YOU say that our government is inefficient.
YOU say that our laws are too old.
YOU say that the municipality does not pick up the garbage.
YOU say that the phones don't work, the railways are a joke, The airline is the worst in the world, mails never reach their destination.
YOU say that our country has been fed to the dogs and is the absolute pits.
YOU say, say and say. What do YOU do about it?
Take a person on his way to Singapore . Give him a name - YOURS. Give him a face - YOURS. YOU walk out of the airport and you are at your International best. In Singapore you don't throw cigarette butts on the roads or eat in the stores. YOU are as proud of their Underground links as they are. You pay $5 (approx. Rs. 60) to drive through Orchard Road (equivalent of Mahim Causeway or Pedder Road) between 5 PM and 8 PM. YOU come back to the parking lot to punch your parking ticket if you have over stayed in a restaurant or a shopping mall irrespective of your status identity... In Singapore you don't say anything, DO YOU? YOU wouldn't dare to eat in public during Ramadan, in Dubai. YOU would not dare to go out without your head covered in Jeddah. YOU would not dare to buy an employee of the telephone exchange in London at 10 pounds ( Rs.650) a month to, 'see to it that my STD and ISD calls are billed to someone else.'YOU would not dare to speed beyond 55 mph (88 km/h) in Washington and then tell the traffic cop, 'Jaanta hai main kaun hoon (Do you know who I am?). I am so and so's son. Take your two bucks and get lost.' YOU wouldn't chuck an empty coconut shell anywhere other than the garbage pail on the beaches in Australia and New Zealand .
Why don't YOU spit Paan on the streets of Tokyo ? Why don't YOU use examination jockeys or buy fake certificates in Boston ??? We are still talking of the same YOU. YOU who can respect and conform to a foreign system in other countries but cannot in your own. You who will throw papers and cigarettes on the road the moment you touch Indian ground. If you can be an involved and appreciative citizen in an alien country, why cannot you be the same here in India ?
Once in an interview, the famous Ex-municipal commissioner of Bombay , Mr. Tinaikar, had a point to make. 'Rich people's dogs are walked on the streets to leave their affluent droppings all over the place,' he said. 'And then the same people turn around to criticize and blame the authorities for inefficiency and dirty pavements. What do they expect the officers to do? Go down with a broom every time their dog feels the pressure in his bowels?
In America every dog owner has to clean up after his pet has done the job. Same in Japan . Will the Indian citizen do that here?' He's right. We go to the polls to choose a government and after that forfeit all responsibility. We sit back wanting to be pampered and expect the government to do everything for us whilst our contribution is totally negative. We expect the government to clean up but we are not going to stop chucking garbage all over the place nor are we going to stop to pick a up a stray piece of paper and throw it in the bin. We expect the railways to provide clean bathrooms but we are not going to learn the proper use of bathrooms.
We want Indian Airlines and Air India to provide the best of food and toiletries but we are not going to stop pilfering at the least opportunity. This applies even to the staff who is known not to pass on the service to the public.
When it comes to burning social issues like those related to women, dowry, girl child! and others, we make loud drawing room protestations and continue to do the reverse at home. Our excuse? 'It's the whole system which has to change, how will it matter if I alone forego my sons' rights to a dowry.' So who's going to change the system? What does a system consist of ? Very conveniently for us it consists of our neighbours, other households, other cities, other communities and the government. But efinitely not me and YOU. When it comes to us actually making a positive contribution to the system we lock ourselves along with our families into a safe cocoon and look into the distance at countries far away and wait for a Mr.Clean to come along & work miracles for us with a majestic sweep of his hand or we leave the country and run away. Like lazy cowards hounded by our fears we run to America to bask in their glory and praise their system. When New York becomes insecure we run to England . When England experiences unemployment, we take the next flight out to the Gulf. When the Gulf is war struck, we demand to be rescued and brought home by the Indian government. Everybody is out to abuse and rape the country. Nobody thinks of feeding the system. Our conscience is mortgaged to money.
Dear Indians, The article is highly thought inductive, calls for a great deal of introspection and pricks one's conscience too.... I am echoing J. F. Kennedy's words to his fellow Americans to relate to Indians.....
'ASK WHAT WE CAN DO FOR INDIA AND DO WHAT HAS TO BE DONE TO MAKE INDIA WHAT AMERICA AND OTHER WESTERN COUNTRIES ARE TODAY'
Lets do what India needs from us.
Forward this mail to each Indian for a change instead of sending some Jokes or non-sense junk mails.
Dr. Abdul Kalaam
(PRESIDENT OF INDIA )
I’ll blog later on some of the choices this raises for China. My former boss, Bob Zoellick, famously argued that China, as a “stakeholder” in the international system, ought to support, sustain, and adapt the system that has enabled China’s own success. He even took his counterpart, Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo, to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s home in Hyde Park, New York, to drive home the point. And in the case of the Bretton Woods institutions, this means that China—as a literal stakeholder, with a now increased voting share—will be challenged to reconcile its bilateral lending practices, which lack World Bank-style conditionality, with its weight in this and other multilateral institutions.
But I’m equally intrigued by the questions this raises for India.
India’s post-Cold War foreign policy is hotly contested terrain. One question is what will replace nonalignment as the basis of Indian foreign policy. But another is whether and how India will leverage its growth, not to mention its seat at the top tables of international relations, such as the G20, into political influence and leverage.
India isn’t a member of the UN Security Council. But it would be hard to argue anymore that India isn’t seated at the top table. It’s in the G20. It’s in the G8 Plus Five. It’s on the Financial Stability Board. And now it has acquired a larger voice in the Bretton Woods system.
So, what will India do with its new weight?
Indian foreign policy is in flux. And to my mind, India can be a real jumble of foreign policy contradictions: It is a maritime nation—strategically situated at key chokepoints—but with a continental strategic tradition. It was nonaligned but, in essence, aligned itself with the Soviet Union, particularly after 1971. It is a nation of illustrious mercantile traditions that closed many aspects of its economy.
But a more powerful India, economically integrated with other major economies, is an India whose self-interest should increasingly overlap with the self-interest of the United States and other G20 countries, not the G77. And yet leveraging its seat at the world’s top tables challenges at least some long-standing Indian approaches.
Take the debate about climate change. A leaked October 2009 memo by environment minister Jairam Ramesh exposed some of the fault lines that are bound to emerge as India moves beyond nonalignment toward something new. India should “not stick with G77 but be embedded in G20,” Ramesh wrote. But his memo, which proposed to leverage India’s new weight in the G20, prompted a backlash.
So here’s the issue: While only the United States presently projects military power globally, other leading or emerging players either (1) provide public goods, (2) join clubs of leading economies, (3) leverage their voting weight in the international financial institutions, or (4) deploy economic and financial tools to move global markets. India does some, but not all, of these things but seems most likely to make its mark over the next five years on the international financial institutions and global markets. So the question will be whether—and precisely how—India deploys its power to shape these institutions’ policies and decisions. And on that question, there is much debate in New Delhi.
In short, Sunday’s decision will be seen as very good news in India. But India now faces broader—and much tougher—foreign policy choices than merely how to acquire or enlarge its seat at the top table.
But three stories over the past week caught my attention. They show three (very) different sides of India’s incredible, but very complicated, growth story.
Here’s the first story that caught my attention:
The International Monetary Fund’s July update to its April 2010 World Economic Outlook projects 9.4 percent growth for India in 2010, slackening to a still-impressive 8.4 percent for 2011. (India’s bearish finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, has played it cooler, sticking to a projection of 8.5 for 2010). So, it’s now clear that growth is back on track.
What a difference a year makes: As the global crisis unfolded in 2008, many in India argued that the economy was safely “decoupled” from global trends because India didn’t depend heavily on foreign demand for exports—and because its relatively closed financial sector had little exposure to toxic assets. And yet India was hurt by the crisis: Exports collapsed, capital left the country, and corporate India lost access to many sources of overseas financing. The government adopted a fiscal stimulus in December 2008 that included heavy capital and infrastructure spending. Still, Indian growth slowed from 9 percent in 2007-08 to 6.7 in 2008-09.
The government’s top priority, then, has been to return India to a path of rapid and sustained growth of 9 percent. And in that sense, the recent news has cheered many in New Delhi—even Mukherjee.
This means debate will increasingly shift to the challenges to growth, not least inflation, rather than India’s growth rate per se. And no wonder: Inflation isn’t just an economic issue in India; it’s politically explosive because it touches consumer prices, particularly the prices of foodstuffs, oils, and cooking fuels, in a country with a large population of poor voters. And inflation is a growing challenge; inflation figures are now over 10 percent and food inflation is higher still.
Here’s the second story that caught my eye:
Last week, India adopted a new symbol for its currency, the rupee—akin to symbols for the dollar ($), euro (€), pound (£), and yen (¥). This is the work of a country with ambitions to translate its economic success into greater global clout, including by deploying the symbols of global clout. In fact, the value of the rupee has lagged.
The return to rapid growth almost certainly will reinvigorate debates about India’s global aspirations. India has become more of a player in global markets. Indian companies have listed in London, for instance. And there are some stable sources of capital flows, whatever is happening in the global economy, including remittances from workers overseas and capital inflows from non-resident Indians abroad. And then there was the curious case of India’s gold buy from the IMF in 2009. It boosted gold prices by as much as 2.2 percent but, ultimately, just didn’t signal very much because other Asian central banks did not follow suit.
The fact is, India can get quite a lot of growth simply by removing bottlenecks in its economy; it can still grow without undertaking the kind of deep reforms that many have hoped for. That compounds the political disincentives that have held back many reforms. And there are challenges aplenty alongside inflation, including India’s large fiscal deficit, which the government now seeks to address through share sales in state-owned enterprises, telecom spectrum auctions, and other revenue raisers.
In short, these two stories—rapid growth, and global aspirations—say a lot about today’s India.
But so, too, does a third story that caught my eye. It touches the other India:
A new “multidimensional poverty index,” developed at Oxford and soon-to-be-used by the UN’s Human Development Report, put 410 million Indians in poverty. This means there are more poor people in eight Indian states than in all of sub-Saharan Africa—26 countries combined. As one news story in the Guardian put it, the index “reinforce[s] claims that distribution of the wealth generated by India’s rapid economic growth … is deeply unequal.”
This will surely reinforce the Indian government in its emphasis on “inclusive” growth. But stressing the distributive aspects of growth also meshes with an important electoral calculation: Indian voters have punished both major political parties for enacting reforms that were viewed by some as benefiting elites disproportionately.
Returned to power in 2004, after eight years in the wilderness, the Indian National Congress expanded welfare programs, especially in rural India, alongside its efforts to increase growth. And many credited the government’s debt waivers for farmers during its first term in office—and especially a national rural employment guarantee—as the principal reasons for its larger-than-expected margin of victory in 2009. The government’s first postelection budget extended the rural debt waiver, boosted spending on the rural employment guarantee by 144 percent, and hiked India’s rural infrastructure program by 45 percent.
So, here are a few questions raised by these three (very) different aspects of India’s economic story: Will India’s choices facilitate an economically open, globally integrated India? Will they shrink its wealth divide, expand its middle class, and strengthen its physical infrastructure? And at the end of the day, can India’s economy provide a foundation for strategic clout?
More than a decade of rapid growth has made India a major world economy, on track, according to Goldman Sachs and others, to be a top-five global economy by 2030. But it is really the next round of economic choices that will involve the most consequential factors shaping India’s rise.