After over two decades of coalition politics that crippled policy making, where populism ruled over pragmatism, corruption prevailed over conscience and factionalism eclipsed facts, India has finally transitioned from despair to hope last year, with a stable Government at the Center after the General Elections of April 2015. For the first time since Independence there is so much of aspiration, hope and energy with the young population so eager to achieve economic prosperity in their lifetime. Economics, and not politics, is at the core to realise this dream. In this context, the book is perfectly timed.
In terms of approach, the book is a bird’s eye view of the Indian Economy, data driven, analytical and practical. It is not a post mortem of what went wrong, but a clear prescription of what needs to be done to succeed in the future. It heavily relies on available data, buts present the bare minimum and most relevant, in tables and charts, that clearly drives home the points discussed.
The concept of Private Cost of Public Failure in providing basic necessities of life like power, roads, water, education, health care and security is brought out very well. We suffer from unreliable and shoddy public goods and services and are caught in a vicious circle. The rich buy these services at exorbitant prices while the poor bear the cost of quality and quantity deficit. The nation as a whole suffers. In fact this is a clear input for policy makes to think afresh and start on a clean slate in conceptualising and providing such services in future.
The case for shifting the large workforce from Agriculture to Industry to leapfrog India’s economic growth is discussed very well, with linkage to issues of higher education, urbanization and land acquisition. It is interesting to note that the issue of acquiring rural land for urbanization is blown out of proportion. Data shows that in the worst case only 3 percent of agricultural land needs to be acquired for infrastructure and urbanization. While this will provide a big boost to the economy, a slight increase in agricultural productivity can easily make up for the farm produce. What is more important is the right compensation, sustainability of lively hoods and co-opting of farmers into projects for which land has been acquired.
In the case of higher Education, India produces over a million ‘Engineers’ per year and over four hundred thousand ‘MBAs’. Their quality and hence employability is inversely proportional to the growth and proliferation of colleges that churn out these substandard graduates. On the other hand the manufacturing sector needs skilled technicians who are hard to find. It is perhaps easier to find an engineer than a plumber these days. The book is clarion call for a deeper look into our education system, to address the right mix of skills and to upgrade the standards on par with the best in the world. Only then, we can realise the ‘Make in India’ vision.
The chapter on e-Governance is outstanding. It explains the concept of digitization of private and public records, streamlining of processes and delivery mechanisms. Identification of the actual beneficiaries through UID, direct transfer of monetary benefits and elimination of leakages, optimization of scarce resources are some key benefits in implementing social benefit schemes. Similarly digitized processes are speedy, transparent and eliminate middlemen and touts who breed on corruption. The citizen can directly interact with the government through hand held devices and kiosks. Several successful examples like e-filing of IT returns, Railway reservation system and banking are cited with relevant data.
I congratulate the author for this excellent book. There is an urgent need for such insightful books on every sector of the Indian Economy to guide all stakeholders in the coming decade.
There are a very few books that analyze multiple facets of Indian economy in a granular and analytical fashion. This book provides a framework to analyse India over the next decade and longer. Akhilesh has sharp insight and his arguments are backed by thorough analysis of data and wherever there are gaps, projections based on logical and transparent assumptions. A must read for anyone who wants to understand India better - policy experts, journalists, politicians, students, professionals - its written in a very lucid language and handles all the issues in a holistic manner. Would await next release from Akhilesh on the same
A lot has been written on India, it is a writers delight , their favorite muse as they say it. Everyone has an opinion on India, when foreigners do it (the BBC correspondents types), they become overtly poetic about the state of affairs and become judgemental rather being to the point. When Indian scribes do it , they become too burdened by their own worldview and ideology. What we lose out in this is a dispassionate analysis of current state of affairs bereft of any dogmatic beliefs. This is the space in which this book shines.The Making of India by Akhilesh is free of all those biasing ills and present you the country as it is. He gives you a lot of data points to make your own conclusions. He holds back the policy prescription, the silver bullet to all malaise and gives you food of thought or a full buffet of thoughts for that matter. I recommend it as a compulsory reading for all who are interested in India macro and want to understand India through the prism of hard data.