India on the coverpage of ‘Economist’

India has again appeared on the cover page of the ‘Economist‘ this week.

” In many ways India counts as one of liberalisation’s greatest success stories. Over the past 15 years it has been transformed into a far more powerful beast. Its companies have become world-beaters. Without India’s strength, the world economy would have had far less to boast about.”

It is happening India. The stock might have crashed. In one corner, some insane young and old selfish politicians might be content with creating mental agony and physical skirmishes for few persons for media attention and ego-satisfaction. The pink papers may be forecasting slowdown, but the employment is booming, the cars are selling, and the entertainment industry is getting more and more stable providing the growing middle class what it wants. “Many things restrain India’s economy, from a government that depends on Communist support to the caste system, power cuts and rigid labour laws. An enduring constraint is even more awkward: a state that makes a big claim on a poor country’s resources but then uses them badly.”
Many a times it may appear confusing and annoying, but no doubt India is moving ahead, otherwise Economist can’t keep on writing about India.

The main story deals with ‘the babu raj’.

” On coming to power in 2004, Manmohan Singh, the prime minister, said that administrative reform-“at every level”-was his priority. Some economists see India’s malfunctioning public sector as its biggest obstacle to growth. Lant Pritchett, of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, calls it “one of the world’s top ten biggest problems-of the order of AIDS and climate change”. Yet it is hard to find progress on Mr Singh’s watch.

But in a mostly unreformed system, rent-seekers have a habit of clawing back. The title of a draft paper by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is apt: “Putting Band-Aid on a corpse: incentives for nurses in the Indian public health-care system”. To encourage a batch of Rajasthani nurses to show up for work-which, on any day, over 60% did not-its authors began monitoring their attendance at village health centres by computer and sending the results to the state health ministry. Threatened with fines, half of the absentees returned to work. Six months later, they began breaking the computers and reporting “machine problems”. After 16 months, the health centres featured in the study were no more likely to contain a nurse than any other.”

It is unfortunate that in his second inning at a higher chair that could have propelled Singh to a permanent prominent position in India’s history, he has not been able to make any great impact but for his integrity. With his personality and knowledge, he could have at least continued and pressed with one single mission of the administrative reforms. Nothing could have stopped India to reach the highest ever growth rate ever achieved by any country, if babus had taken that as their mission. As a management student all along, I think Indian administration needs distruptive innovations. Unfortunatelly, with politics of the lowest order, it is not going to happen. And India will keep on living in various ages of its history from the primitive stone era to the twenty second century simultaneously for decades and perhaps centuries.

It is unfortunate that Manmohan Singh has to resort to blaming the previuos government in the fifth year for the farmers’ debt on the dictate or direction from his master.

And India will have to wait for another prime minister to bring in the disruptive innovations in its administration.

I wonder why can’t the IAS system be done away with. Why can’t the great achievers of IIMs or from the industry fill all the vacancies?

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