Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bad Adharma

Does this sound familiar;
...we have not established public support for the basic principles of competition and free enterprise. Indeed, distrust of even the legitimate activities of the private sector has grown. Not surprisingly, the utopia promised by the extreme left is once again enjoying a resurgence of popularity. ....
....Growth is slowing, in part because of bottlenecks. At the same time, given public dissatisfaction, politicians are even more focused on subsidies and transfers to keep people happy, especially as general elections near. No one wants to be blamed for taking away the goodies, even as our ability to pay for them has plummeted. Politicians are loathe to act quickly to give up their rents, so reforms that might improve sentiment are stuck. And opposition to liberalization is gathering strength amongst the angry middle class – they have become more willing to listen to old discredited remedies once again because their trust in the private sector has been shattered. [our emphasis]
 No, not Rush Limbaugh lambasting Barack Obama, it's the University of Chicago's Raghu Rajan on his native India.  The post 'License Raj' India.  Seems that the fantastic economic growth that followed the reforms of then Finance Minister (now Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh in the 1990s has slowed, and is (in Rajan's opinion) at a fork in the road.
...even as the world becomes more competitive, India’s star has dimmed in the last few months, as our governance is besmirched by corruption scandals and our macroeconomic health has deteriorated. Alarm bells should sound when domestic industry no longer wants to invest in India, even while eagerly investing abroad.
Professor Rajan's advice is to, Yogi Berra-like, take it;
...we should not succumb to pessimism. There is no reason that India’s growth cannot regain double digits. Simply moving our millions from low productivity agriculture to rural industry or services will give us growth for years to come, provided we are willing to do the minimum necessary to collect the low hanging fruit. That requires completing the second generation of reforms. We need to liberalize sectors like education, retail, and the press, freeing entry and improving customer choice. We need to transform more government owned firms into well-managed publicly owned firms which are free from political influence or government support. 
And we need to evolve transparent means of pricing and allocating the bountiful natural resources in our country.   Clearly, we need to ensure that growth reaches more people. But there is no better way of inclusion than a decent job, no doubt augmented by better public services as well as targeted conditional cash transfers to the poor.
I am hopeful that our increasingly difficult situation will focus political minds.
Aren't we all.

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