We dream of leapfrogging to First World status, here’s how to do it in real life
By Sanjeev Sabhlok – What will it take for India to become a First World nation?
Such a question is about matters more important than mere economic growth.
It is about freedom, rule of law, justice, separation of religion and state. Such a question can reset our expectations and start a meaningful conversation about what we want to be as a nation.
It is time for us as a nation to step back and look at the big picture. The facts that face us are not pleasant.
Transparency International has ranked Indian governments as the most corrupt in the Asia-Pacific region. Our businesses, despite being one of the world’s best, continue to be let down by our governance system. We continue to rank close to the bottom on ease of doing business. We remain one of the least free countries in the world.
We do not protect private property. We do not have credible rule of law. The concept of justice is largely fictitious. There is very little infrastructure. Our school systems are dysfunctional. Vocational training is non-existent or of very low quality. And we continue to be one of the world’s poorest countries.
Second, we need to redesign our governance system. Today, neither ministers nor bureaucrats are accountable. They see themselves as rulers. We need to invert this mindset and hold our servant – the government – to account.
No First World country has India’s antediluvian, super-centralized IAS-type tenured service to govern everything. more> https://goo.gl/kjrftm
Vigilantes don’t expect to be punished, victims don’t expect to get justice
By Amish Tripathi – Mob violence and vigilantism happens because the criminals expect to get away with it. Many victims don’t complain because they don’t expect justice to be done. And this happens because our criminal justice system is horribly inefficient.
According to government data, there are more than three crore cases pending in our judicial system. Justice VV Rao of Andhra Pradesh high court had said that at the normal rate of dispersal, it will take 320 years to clear the backlog in our courts! India is amongst the 10 worst countries in the world in terms of the percentage of under-trials as a proportion of total prisoners.
Many unfortunate people, who can’t possibly be tracked by TV studios in Mumbai and Delhi, continue to suffer systemic apathy.
This situation has led to the corruption of our society.
Why do the dis-empowered vote for criminals and strongmen?
Because they know that they will not get justice in a gummed up judicial system. So, the practical thing to do is to elect a strongman from your community and expect him/her to use political power to protect you.
The only long-term solution is a clean-up of the criminal justice system.
Police reforms (as ordered by the Supreme Court in 2006) must be implemented to give the force autonomy from political interference, better-trained and more manpower, and modern weapons. more> https://goo.gl/xf5pi7
By Shobhaa De – What the hell are these netas doing? What horrible games are they playing?
What will they tell the young of the nation when confronted?
That the next President of India will be appointed based solely on that dreaded ‘C-word’ — caste — forget any other qualification?
Caste has been India’s curse for centuries. Yes, of course we can’t wish it away. But surely we don’t have to brazenly endorse it and shamelessly manipulate caste issues in order to score political victories? As Indians, we desperately crave the watching world’s respect. We want India to be seated at the high table.
We talk about being a superpower. We send rockets into space and launch hundreds of satellites. We expect the world to gasp and applaud.
At the same time, we indulge in caste machinations of the lowest kind when it comes to the appointment of a person to the highest office in the land. We don’t feel embarrassed to openly discuss the ‘advantages’ of having a Dalit President. Without the slightest self-consciousness, we interject a ‘but’ into the dialogue (“Ram Nath Kovind is a Dalit, but…”). What does that significant ‘but’ even mean? Why is it there?
Both individuals come with impressive educational and professional credentials. Why not focus on those? Why harp on their Dalit identity? As if there is nothing more to them than being born Dalit.
The time has come to seek a pan-India opinion poll on the vexing issue of continuing with this outdated and archaic ceremonial job.
Do we need a President at all? more> https://goo.gl/99WuPA
It has taken 12 years for the Indo-US nuclear deal hype to give way to sober realism
By Brahma Chellaney – India, duped by its own hype over the nuclear deal, had announced plans to import Western reactors costing tens of billions of dollars. The Indian plans helped to motivate Toshiba to acquire Westinghouse – a takeover that ultimately proved a huge blunder, plunging Toshiba into a grave financial crisis.
Having invested considerable political capital in the vaunted Indo-US deal, India today confronts an embarrassing situation: the nuclear power promise is fading globally before New Delhi has signed a single reactor contract as part of that deal. To save face, India, with one of the world’s oldest nuclear energy program, has embarked on a major expansion of domestically designed power reactors.
Given that the Indian nuclear plant construction time frame averages seven years, India’s decision to ramp up its nuclear power capacity may contribute little to meeting its goal of making 24-hour electricity available to all villages and towns by 2022. But the decision will yield major economic dividends, including boosting domestic industry and creating tens of thousands of jobs. By providing $11 billion worth of likely manufacturing orders to Indian industry, the decision will help to transform the domestic nuclear industry.
In this light, the travails of the Indo-US deal may be a blessing in disguise for India. more> https://goo.gl/WXPswv
Look beneath government hype, and signs of deep economic distress are evident
By Kapil Sibal – This government is in denial.
It believes that black economy has been given a fatal blow. At 7.1% India continues to be the fastest growing economy in the world. Spurt in public investment has created jobs. FDI flows are evidence of investors’ confidence in the growth story of India. Reforms have led to ease of doing business.
Let us critically examine each of these claims.
On November 8, when the prime minister announced demonetization of all 500 and 1,000 rupee notes freezing 86% of India’s economy. If this ill-thought decision was an attempt at eradicating unaccounted wealth then it failed miserably. Most cash is either invested in real estate, gold or is stashed abroad. Undisclosed cash in circulation represented only around 5% of unaccounted wealth.
Now that real estate is outside the GST net, cash will continue to be a factor in real estate transactions. What is alarming is that unaccounted cash entered the banking system and is slowly being withdrawn and reconverted into undisclosed cash.
Modi believes in seducing foreign investors in digitizing the economy, little realizing that most of India earns less than Rs 10,000 a month and seldom accesses digital platforms for bank transactions.
Record levels of Sensex, we all know, do not reflect the true state of the economy. With real estate giving no returns and interest rates down, the only option for investors is in equities. This is risky because once the bubble bursts investors will be badly hurt. more> https://goo.gl/PjHNHq