Thursday, April 20, 2006

Development - different dimensions

The pace of reforms since globalization is far beyond the "Hindu" rate that the earlier decades of independence saw. An abnormal change along with the increasing informations and inputs from the world - terms of TV, media, technology, lifestyles and travels has made deep inroads in the social, political, economic and human psyche of the nation. Too much is happening too fast and society and individuals are torn apart and un-grounded. The nation is in a state of deep churning and flux. This is a problem and an opportunity.

Problems because
1. Only a small part of India is able to latch on to the growth - we have never seen worse urban poverty than we are witnessing now.
2. Consumerism is attacking the social fabric of the nation and financial crimes and social crimes are increasing and family structure is under deep stress. The new value system adopted by a small fraction of indians is creating larger chasm between groups.
3. Greed is replacing contentment.
4. Most part of india is as they were earlier, if not worse. Increase of knowledge of rights and increased militancy can lead to violence - as witnessed in increased Naxalite movement.Due to our religious base, we have generally been fortunate to stay away from the class wars - but class differences can be exploited due to the rising gap between the rich and the poor.
5. Opinion makers in India are mostly non-creative and unoriginal. Their values and benchmarking is with the west and they are pushing the society more and more into the western civilizational mode with competetion and not harmony being the mantra. More competetion means more stress and more violence.

So, the growth that we see is
a. Limited to a small part of the nation - not distributed well due to poor governance.
b. Its too little to be significant (8% growth on a GDP of $650 is $ 52 per year. US GDP is over 35000 and China over 1400 - we will take many many years to reach their - that is if they remain static).

Opportunity because
1. The benchmarking with other nations and increased opportunities is fuelling demand and desire which is the engine for growth.
2. The nation has never been more ready for change
3. The reduction of earlier caste and religion distinctions is bringing out demands for real issues like education, water, infrastructure etc to the fore.
4. India is getting more and more relevant and centerstage internationally.
5. We have a reasonable consensus on reforms.
6. Last few years have had some good leadership.

Lok Satta understands that while there have been some significant developments in the past decade and half, the gap between petential and achievement is huge and needs to be straddled.