Hyderabad: India’s economy has done well. Better days are ahead, and not behind. The nation has emerged as the third largest economy in purchasing power parity. India accounts for about 10 per cent of the world’s increase in economic activity. Reforms have been transformational triggering growth, more importantly catalysing substantial and sustainable progress, Dr Vikas Singh, president, Crux tells Y V Phani Raj in an interview.
There are several other positives too accompanied by enabling demography, social harmony, and a healthy democracy. Literacy rate is up four times, life expectancy has doubled. The expansion of healthcare facilities has enabled a healthier society. Enrolment ratios, access to toilets, and safe drinking water are long-term multipliers.
India has been building dams, roads and bridging the rural–urban divide. We have made significant headway in infrastructure, building a new India, laying roads, establishing a robust transport network that leads to every taluk. Our road-network has increased 20-fold, and railways expanded five times. Similarly, every fourth Indian rides a vehicle, every 20th flies. India has lit every home and fired every kitchen. While the rate of growth is important, so is the trajectory and pattern.
Farmers feed the world; grow 12 per cent of the global food. Green revolution has changed the agricultural landscape, helping us attain “self-sufficiency” crowning India as one of the largest producers of food grains. We are a rising force in fruits and vegetables production, the leader in milk production. Farmers however need an income revolution. Government must identify a model to extract more from the agriculture value chain for the poorest farmers. Almost 80 per cent are out of the preview of welfare and farm subsidies.
Our ‘soft’ power is recognised and respected worldwide. The cohort of scientists, engineers, researchers, teachers, technologists, and doctors serve the world adding economic value. They write the most complex of codes, launch satellites and rockets and teach at the best universities. Similarly, our researchers are at the forefront of molecule, medical and genetic research, serving humanity.
Information technology, telecommunications have transformed the landscape, creating opportunities, such as e-commerce, attracting a new breed of tech-pruners, with global ambitions. Our service industries have grown multiple times riding on the telecom backbone and IT knowhow to enhance value across the stakeholders. Digital India can transform a connected nation.
Manufacturing has potential to engineer growth. Reforms dismantled most licensing and unleashed entrepreneurial spirit, giving birth to a thriving economic ecosystem. It gave wings; our entrepreneurs soared higher. However, there is more to do. India needs to move up the value chain and emerge as an engine for growth and jobs—if it can specialise. It must focus on growth-boosters, and intensify the high-productivity model, value enhancing framework.
An agile India can move from the ‘catch-up’ potential to several ‘leapfrogging’ possibilities. We need to focus on the next generation of digital, artificial intelligence technologies with 20 billion dollars’ export opportunity. India needs 2,000 large and 20,000 small/midsize companies to grow at 10 per cent, creating 100 million jobs. The government has a role to play as well. Its several functionaries continue to play the role of a monitor and enforcer. Businesses need enablers and nurturers.
Economic reforms, high-frontier business models can triple the GDP this decade and create employment opportunities for every aspiring citizen. Economic growth is a process, not an event and coaxes development. There is no single silver bullet. However, there is a strong correlation, and even evidence that ‘rapid and sustained’ growth is the fuel for social mobility. The prime minister’s focus on several social infrastructure aspects particularly health, education, housing, Swachh Bharat, Amrut and allied schemes is a force-multiplier.
An aspiring India needs decisive leadership to push bold reforms and capable thinkers and doers to scale and implement. The policymakers both at the Centre and the States must prioritise economic reforms for India to move into the next orbit. The PM must focus on intertwining and even combining economic reforms with social mobility policies, encouraging the deprived to holistically participate in the opportunities.