The occasion of India’s 64th Independence Day is the most appropriate time to look back in time on our country’s trials and triumphs over the years. Such momentous junctures invariably evoke mixed feelings of delight and disappointment as the journey has been of spectacular highs and dismal lows in the same breath.
We are truly a land of glorious contradictions - On one hand, we are reckoned - along with China, Russia and Brazil - as an emerging giant force of the coming century. The Indian economy is expected to grow by 8 - 10 per cent in coming years as the combined result of handsome agricultural produce, phenomenal industrial output, services and export boom. But growing parallel are India’s weak spots - some traditional, others recent. ...abject poverty, Illiteracy, health hazards, inadequate power, weak infrastructure, corruption, terrorist threats...all have made us the most uncertain playground of the world.
And despite that, Indian corporate performance - a result of innovative entrepreneurship in recessionary times - has already ensured sustainable long-term economic development. Whether in auto, white goods, retail, telecom or banking, Indian companies are witnessing record domestic demand. And contrary to predictions, the Indian solution providers in the global Outsourcing arena are recording decent recoveries. No wonder, the World Bank places India's economy growth at 7.6% in 2010 and 8% in 2011, almost equal to that of China.
There’s something about the Indian character that helps it rise to the occasion whenever it matters most. Our banking sector has been extraordinarily prudent throughout the recession. Our domestic economy, one of the most robust worldwide, helped us reduce dependence on global markets when the chips were down. Our capital markets, legal procedures and bureaucracy may not be world class but they function well in crucial areas. This self-springing mechanism gives us an edge over China.
As the eminent thinker Gurcharan Das believes, “China’s rise has been induced by a purposeful state, while India’s growth occurs in spite of the state. Therefore India’s will be a more long-term success”
As we surge ahead, a lot remains to be done. Our industry share in GDP needs to vastly improve, chiefly through prudent reforms to improve supply side flexibility and financial market support among other things. Our export story is often blown out of proportion as the telltale sign of our emergence as a global super power but the fact remains that our exports stand at 15 percent of GDP, less than 1 percent of the global export figure.
But all that pales into insignificance before our traditional hurdles. India’s infrastructural prosperity is still a dream. Quality education, health care, water, power ...these are still accessible to a lucky few leaving hundreds of millions yet deprived. We need scores of cost-effective community solutions in these areas as much as we need to address the recurrent flaws of our hazy policy making, faulty implementations and corrupt intermediary networks.
Most important, our largely ignorant and reticent population needs to wake up and take charge. We invariably choose compromise over collaboration when it comes to countering community problems. No wonder, whether sport, medicine, commerce or academics, our success emanates largely from exceptional individual brilliance, not strong-willed team work. Whatever our field, whichever the profession, larger issues like matters like civic sense and national pride remain the same. As the tri-colour unfurls in its full splendour on the 15th dayof this August, let’s introspect on to how we can together make a positive difference for the nation - whether through eco-friendly practices, energy-efficient measures, community service participation, financial contribution, fighting corruption or cost-effective innovation.
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