AGENDA FOR INDIA 2020
August 09, 2005
What should be the agenda of India to emerge as a leader in the world by 2020? In two words,' managing contradictions'! On one side, India is emerging as the third biggest economy with an impressive annual 7% growth rate since more than a decade. It has the second largest army of 1.3 million, and the third largest technical manpower in world. It's emerging as the software super power in the world. With 75 million computers and 45 million net connections by 2010, it will have a considerable computer literate population but it will still be quite lagging behind China's impressive record on this count. Though it is still a 'developing country', it has the world's fastest growing economy (next to China).It is the sixth nuclear power and ranks fourth in space technology and a leading missiles power.
At the same time, it has to raise its (variously) estimated 26% to one-third of its population above poverty line and 22% do not get a modest square meal a day (UNHDR). One-half of its population forms its illiterate category--the highest figure for a nation in the world. About 60 % of them do not have an access to assured energy supply.44% do not get electricity. Around two-thirds of its rural population still defecates in open. The government needs to help them change their behaviour and opt better sanitation and hygiene practices. Already 40% of its graduates are unemployed--most of them unemployable graduates! Its government and people, together, can resolve such contradictions if an agenda on following lines is imaginatively carried out--in time. I
* The government should encourage ever new research and development
of info-tech, bio-tech and pharmaceutical technology as the new source of new economy. It's IT and bio-science fields where India has the potential to be ahead of USA and China.
* India has displaced the US to become the second-most attractive destination for foreign direct investment
(FDI) among manufacturing investors, as per A T Kearney's latest FDI Confidence Index rankings.
*India has received 1,312 applications for patents
of pharmaceutical products, becoming only the second country after the U.S. to get a large number such requests, world wide.
* India should maintain its lead in entertainment industry
with highest number of movies (of indifferent quality,though)in the world.Bollywood films(even of indifferent quality) enjoy an annual audience of 2.6 billion people world-wide as compared to Hollywood's 1.6 billion. India has also attracted orders for animation from Hollywood and Disney. That underlines its excellence in this infotainment field yielding rich dividends. Our resourcefulness in creative technology in elegant choreography, camera work and cultural diversity with rich traditions can make us leader in the world.
* So also, in case of fashion designing
, such a cultural source has recently opened up a new vision of making India enviable in the fast expanding fashion world.
* Tourism development
, imaginatively pursued, will be a rich source of revenue. Dubai, a desert-image state, with its tourism policy, now attracts more tourists than its population! Tourism has become the second highest source of income for Malayasia.During my recent China tour, I was amazed how Chinese government is attracting thousands of tourists to its known and unknown places. It earns billions of dollars by marketing its natural, historical and cultural heritage in tastefully packaged tours. The government of India and states (except Kerala) carelessly miss such a marketing opportunities in spite of rich places of unmatched historical, cultural, religious interests and natural beauty.
* Medical tourism
needs to be high on Agenda. Its Apollo chains, Escort chains, NRI hospital-Kochi, Krishna Heart and Sterling hospital-Ahmeadbad, are the trend-setters in attracting patients from abroad to avail of their state-of-art heath care services at comparative medical charge. In the health delivery sector (or hospitals), India should further prepare doctors who are specialized in areas such as cardiac surgery, neurology, kidney transplanting and knee replacement. India also should expand its proven medical transcription services on HealthScribe India model originally funded in part by Indian American doctors in Bangalore.
* In the eight years, almost a tenth of the population will be unemployed if the current archaic education model
is not radically transformed to meet the needs of the modern development. "It is the skilled labour which is in demand, and priced." The nature and structure of educational system must evolve to the 'market'. For example, while there is a surplus of 75,000 mechanical engineers, there is a shortage of 44,000 computer engineers.Again,engineers and the like must be trained to have 'soft skill' like felicity of communicating, particularly in English. Here, the focused program being pursued by China is worth emulating. Currently, bio-tech sector has employee strength of 50,000 with the potential to add 10 lakh jobs by 2012.India also has to fill in the shortage of persons trained in specialized areas like pharma engineering and the old economy sector like tele-com, and smart retailing staff in the wake of increasing 'Wal-martisation' as more Indian commodities like garments and other consumer goods are projected to be imported by the Wal-mart chain in the US.. India also can benefit from training more engineers in car design. Thus industry-centric academic syllabus based on industry-university interface will help avoid the current problem of the unemployed graduates and will help meet the demand for skilled workers in the fast growing economy.
* Infra-structural development
on war footing that includes nation-wide network of highways and inter-river linking project. All this are bound to generate jobs for millions. IIAt the same time, its macro-level progress must be shared by micro-level distribution of development for about 700 millions who feel a sense of being deprived of benefits of progress.
* Its technology must be skillfully harnessed for development of rural, backward people
. It can be used for providing facilities in such areas as education, health and hygiene. So-called illiterate women in Rajasthan and Gujarat have learnt to use computers for keeping local milk co-operatives and handicrafts business. As in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, e-governance be sought to be available for obtaining official forms, paying dues and locating the status of their files regarding their applications/demands/loans right at village panchayat office without having to make rounds in the district head quarters or the distant state capital. Then, unlike Chandra Babu's Cyberabad model, people will not get alienated, but will become partners in development through technology.
* The government should involve corporations and SEWA/AID/ASHA/Indicorp-type NGOs
in this process. The success story of Kuppam town in Andhra Pradesh is a case in point. There Hewlett-Packard involved illiterates and women in an income giving project through they developed a solar panel and put it on a backpack on wheels and made a mobile studio. The solar panel (as no electricity was available there) could charge both camera and the printer. They picked five women and trained them. Women shared revenue with HP on every picture made and sold to villagers for their identity photos, or kids, weddings, etc.The local panchayats also made this women's group their official photographers for public projects which added to their income. It was multiplied in other villages. Sam Pitroda, chairman of the recently formed Knowledge Commission by Manmohan Singh government has initiated such a concept of using technology for participative development since long. The government(s) should have an ambitious agenda in collaboration with corporate and leaders in the voluntary sector.
* India should continue to develop its Diaspora policy
to harness their ideas, technology, knowledge and resources in developing India in specific projects like IIT, NIIT, management, medical tourism, motel management,para-medics, fashion fabrics, for example. Human resources development is an area that is most promising. India has the largest young age group among all the nations in the world. If this young manpower is given skill, technical training that is required in the 21st century India, it can surpass its rivals. Prime Minister Dr. Singh has succinctly put this vital issue when he state while inaugurating the Knowledge Commission
in August, 2005: "The youth can be an asset if we can invest in their capabilities. If this investment is denied, they will be a social and economic liability." Pitroda Commission can be relied upon for productive, action-prone recommendations.
"China is making itself indispensable to the world. Even India, which is wary of China's rise and is a counterweight to it, will not ignore this reality. In three years its largest trading partner will be China, displacing the United States of America" (Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek, August, 2005).At the same time, after it has enough breathing time to become strong enough-- in economic, military and strategic fields--China will reveal its ambition to dominate Asia to the exclusion of the US and India. It's particularly keeping a studied restraint till it demonstrates its amazing achievement to the world during Olympics-2008 and emerges as the global leader in a convincing manner. Meanwhile, China is already taking measured steps to check-mate India by continued strategic support to Pakistan and building strategic structures around India (Beijing-Lhasa road reaching India's Tibet border; a post in Myanmar and surveillance post in Coco isle south of Bangla Desh'Gwadar naval port for Pakistan, etc.).So India and the US have to continue to forge a multi-faceted co-operative relationship that is not in China vs. framework but China vis-à-vis framework.
However, this requires Indian leaders to see that "First World people do not deserve Third World politics"! [Jayaprakash Narayan- Social Acticist] Divisive politics of reservation, caste and communal politics have to be given a decent and honest burial by all the political parties. Terrorism is going to sap much of our energy, resources and time during this decade. Indian leaders must adopt a focused approach of integrating minorities by result-oriented plans for their advancement in modern educational and economic pursuits--at the same time, attending to the sensitivities of its majority community in the nation-building and development of a great power Otherwise, antediluvian politics will continue to retard our society. Medieval mindset and the imperatives of 21st century India do not gel or go together.
India requires a 'breakthrough leadership'( as Harvard Management Journal calls it) which has a vision to forge India's agenda for 2020 and create synergy effects by harnessing its prowess in frontier technology, a vast source of an amazing individual entrepreneurship, and resources of its Diaspora that is now aware of 'giving back to the land of their roots'.
Pravin Sheth is a renowned social scientist. His recent book is Global Terrorism: Melting Borders, Hardened Walls.