By Pritesh Bagwe
Technocrats will lead India’s next wave of development, says Parthajeet Sarma in his new book, “Smart Phones, Dumb People?”
Given the recent brouhaha over corruption in India and the general difficulty and lack of a transparent business environment for any multinational to operate in India, if one were to look at India from outside, India still does not offer a smooth playing ground. The demonstrations across the country following a rape on a public bus in Delhi, were less about rape, but more about the syst volatility seems to be the order of the day. The lure of big money seems to have encouraged an unhealthy mix of politics and policy. Faster policy changes are required across many sectors to enable level playing fields for businessmen and investors. Policy changes and subsequent implementation are required to make people feel safe in their neighbourhoods.
“In a way, I would think that India has stopped the liberalization process by not affecting such changes quickly enough, given the fast changing nature of industry and economy. In any progressive nation, policy changes need to keep pace with the changes in the socio-economic environment” Says Parthajeet. In some ways, things are slowly becoming more and more difficult, like in the ‘license raj’, preceding the nineties.
As demand-supply gaps remain in many areas, and are left unattended, high rates of inflation refuse to go away. The countryside economy needs to be rejuvenated, jobs created and demand-supply gaps reduced. Irrespective of the political party in power, a national consensus has to be drawn on key issues like healthcare, education, housing and defence. India needs to be liberalized once again.
“Unlike the policy driven reforms of the nineties, technocrats will need to play a major role for the next development wave to occur”, says Parthajeet. A bottom up approach needs to be adopted by such technocrats instead of depending on a top down effort to have a trickledown effect. The Unique Identification Number program, with the government roping in a technocrat to lead the mission, promises to be a good forbearer of how technology can help address some of India’s biggest needs of the hour. A lot more requires to be done.
Business houses have learnt from their and others’ mistakes based around assumptions about the India we know now. There is a growing realization that the ‘Wallstreet’ approach of investing, based on fancy spreadsheets, may not work well in India. Going forward, we will have to look deeper into the interiors of India, and rejuvenate the economy there from the grassroots, in order to have a sustainable economy.
Whist the intellect and ability of Indians have been well demonstrated over the ages, for us to achieve the above, technology will need to be the catalyst for process changes. We are today in an opportune moment of our long glorious history; twenty first century tools are at hand to address issues of an India that we left behind in the nineteenth century.
Parthajeet says: I hear people say “They will do it”, “They will fix it”. Who are they? There is no ‘they’. It is up to us.