The following are a decidedly amateurish set of views of how I feel India should be moving forward in the coming future, being a mumbaikar the views will have a definite mumbai slant cause those are the issues I know best (or more accurately anything about).
Ok now that the disclaimer is out of the way let’s dive right in.
With a burgeoning youth population and an impending urban explosion on the cards India seems to have a massive advantage yet challenges which lay before it.
1) The huge number of youth can be potentially handled in two ways. The first would be to leave them relatively uneducated way which would in turn push us towards becoming a potential low cost manufacturing because we have history as our witness that poorly educated people typically ask for less money. The other alternative is to start providing the populace with a better standard of education immediately which would potentially propel us towards becoming a knowledge economy much faster and on a larger scale than ever seen before. I prefer the later approach because it helps us get to our eventual outcome that much faster and with a huge relatively uneducated populace rapidly moving towards a working age we already have the potential of filling in the intermediate period as a low cost manufacturing hub due to the large number of uneducated youth rapidly approaching working age. Its their kids which even assuming they keep to only the required 2.1 children per family should keep our demographic advantage going long enough to propel us into the leagues of the developed.
The challenge with choosing the later will be building the massive infrastructure which will be required in time. A gargantuan task in its conception alone execution will require a kind of drive never seen in India before.
2) The rise of blatant and open corruption which is pushing us right back into the clutches of a license raj as was seen before the times of economic freedom which brought us to the forefront of progress we are today.
The common man and businessman faces red tape of an illegal kind at every turn and it seems to just worse every day. The sheer scales to which this has risen was visible with the commonwealth scam being blown wide open. On a tangent for just a short while, the 2g scam in my opinion really wasn’t one as they make it out to be and even if it was became one of those rare occurrences where it actually ended up benefiting the end consumer by resulting in some of the lowest cellular rates in the world.
Coming back to the point, while some actions are being taken on the anti corruption front with the Jan Lokpal bill and other initiatives these are still in the planning stage and implementation will come at a much later stage which guessing by the much publicized lethargy and in fighting demonstrated by our parliament will take till forever and beyond.
What needs to start happening to weed this out in the longer term calls for a two pronged approach, firstly there should be a massive campaign to raise the esteem and value of the country itself in the minds of its varied citizens. This needs to be done as raising the profile of the country within the citizens themselves will lend a sense of pride and ownership in their dealings which will sub consciously think twice regarding not only corruption but a host of other issues.
The second should be a rapid and fairly loop hole proof digitization of almost all government transactions and processes. This will leave them more open, rapid and traceable than ever before.
3)Bridging of the digital divide to get at least 90% of our population is the next task which must be executed on a high priority basis.
This will facilitate the spread of information like never before and propel ourselves into the digital age. For a second just close your eyes and imagine the whole country connected to a single place where race, creed, colour, religion none of it matters, information flows freely and is accessible too. A utopian view that’s true because the nay sayers will always respond with there will be a lot of bile and filth on the internet it will corrupt our people and their age old values and to that I say bull shit. The advantages far outweigh the risks which will always be there with or without the internet.
4) Corresponding and almost in sync with the digitization of india we need to ensure the roll out if the UID project is a resounding success. Too much invasion in to a persons private life scream the naysayers I beg to ask them one simple question will it be better for that below poverty line to get 2 square meals a day through the NREGA scheme or subsidized ration at his neighborhood store or is it more important to have his privacy the very veneer of which in this world of investigative journalism and loose tongues is something I laugh at. The system would allow for better more seamless tax collection, better and easier access to a slew of government products and better governance for all involved. There will always be people creative enough to circumvent even this system of monitoring so the few arguments out there declaring the need for a safety valve to exist cause every economy needs a little breathing room shouldn’t really worry too much
There isn’t really a concrete reason you know why the UID project should take even a day more than the stipulated one because with one of the largest IT services oriented workforces in the world and a massive number of new engineers being churned out every year it would just be a shame if it did.
5) A renewed focus on infrastructure projects is a much. On both a national and city level these things require a much needed kick where the sun don’t shine because they lay the often intangible foundation of what the future will bring for us. Take the very simple example of the nation spanning internet connections I called for, what use would they be pray do tell without a massive electrical infrastructure to take it forward. This is just one small example of the kind of consequences of not focusing on key projects today rather than waiting for them to take care of themselves.
I don’t however want these to be taken forward at the expense of an already vulnerable ecological environment. We need to look at making the best use of the recyclable sources we do have available or the ones we can hope to use in the future.
A major component of this will have to be making the major government companies a lot more professional and reduce wastage, pilferage and money laundering from all angles in them.
Otherwise mega projects like the sea link, mumbai metro and such will just languish and slowly just fade into being irrelevant.
This seems to be a few things I feel India must do to take itself forward and establish it self as the super power it once more. Will be glad if eventually we achieve even 70% of this and will add more in another post as and when they come to mind.