Priorities for the Future


Bimal Jalan on India- Priorities for the Future at #Thinkers Sandbox

It is for the first time that India was able to form a majority government in 2014. This was an opportunity which paved a way for the elected government to make decisions and bring in reforms to simplify various systems that have been put in place for years now.

Presently, India has all the economic potential and all we need to make sure now is that we can take some meaningful steps to simplify our policy-making and implementation process.

India’s recent economic history can be divided into two periods. One is from 1980 to 2000, and the second is from 2000 to 2015. The two periods are quite different from one another in terms of the evolution of policy and government structures. On one hand, the period from 1990 to 2000 saw as many as nine governments where six of them had terms of less than one year and therefore could not do much in terms of improving the economic environment in the country. On the other hand, India witnessed three majority governments between 2000 to 2015 as they were in full 5-year terms. However, these were also coalition governments so nothing concrete could be done even though the country had all the opportunities and comparative advantages that we have today. 2014 was the first time when India was able to form a majority government. This was an opportunity which paved a way for the elected government to make decisions and bring in reforms to simplify various systems that have been put in place for years now.

There are certain broad segments where a decision is required. The first relates to our political system. One of the most pertinent questions is that why does India continue to have the same age-old colonial heritage in terms of the role of government? For example, why do we see that all the powers are with the centre when the solution lies in decentralization? Areas such as internal security and cross-border security are of strategic importance and are therefore always advisable to be under the purview of the central government, but governance and implementation of policies should be potentially under the ambit of the states. The idea is that India now has the capacity and a will to get transformed so the decentralized forces should now be given a larger role in governance. Similarly, India must also take on political reforms. For example, the Anti-Defection Law was well thought out when introduced, but over time it has resulted in nothing but a party system that is fragmented by all means.

It should not be a question of ideology, but about governance and setting priorities. Presently, India has all the economic potential and all we need to make sure now is that we can take some meaningful steps to simplify our policy-making and implementation process. Credit must go to the current government for introducing major reforms in the economic arena and then moving on to monitoring progress on a continuous basis.  

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