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India shining? It's just an illusion
Ehtasham Khan in New Delhi |
March 11, 2004 19:42 IST
India may be the hub of IT professionals and your maid may be calling you from her cell phone but India is yet to shine, feel some experts.
At the first annual two-day Young Indians Summit in New Delhi on Thursday, speakers said though India has made remarkable achievements in some areas, it still has a long way to go.
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Addressing a gathering of some 500 young professionals and students, the experts said a large portion of the population has not benefited from the ongoing process of development.
The meet inaugurated by Member of Planning Commission NK Singh was organised by Young Indians, an association of young professionals in the corporate sector, and Confederation of Indian Industry.
Participating in a discussion, the experts said India Shining, which has become a buzzword in the political circles and media, was in fact an illusion.
Tarun Khanna, professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School, said the countries that have opened up their economies had first strengthened their base before plunging into the process of globalisation, privatisation and liberalisation.
This, he felt, has not happened in India.
"When countries opened up their economies they first prepared their base. The base means primary education and not just handful of IITs (Indian Institute of Technology) and IIMs (Indian Institute of Management)," said Khanna.
He said the West still has certain images about India that were not favourable for the country.
"People in the West think that India is very much like a cage tiger. The impression lingers on and is going to be a problem. We need to fight this," said Khanna.
Jayaprakash Narayan, former bureaucrat who resigned from his service in 1990, said Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Orrisa and many north-eastern states were lagging behind in development.
"Roughly 400 million people in these states are deprived of the very basic amenities in life. How can India shine in such a situation?" asked Narayan who now runs a voluntary group Janshakti.
Stating that the divide between the rich and poor was increasing every day, Narayan said: "We are talking of primary education. It is a distant dream. Even the higher education in India is a total mess. We admit some of the best brains in our colleges and make monkeys out of them in few years."
He blamed the politicians of the country for the problems ailing in the society. "Can a modern economy coexist with medieval politics? I don't see a political solution in near future," he argued.
He said corruption was embedded in the higher echelons of the policy makers hampering the growth of the country and pointed out that the banking sector has not been useful in giving credits to the farmers and small business units.
Sanjaya Baru, chief editor of Financial Express newspaper, said India should learn from China in trade relations.
He said the GDP of China and India in 1950 was 5 per cent and 3 per cent respectively.
In 2000, China's GDP was 12 per cent and India was at 6 per cent.
"China is not only driving its own economy but also helping its trade partners. India should learn from China," said Baru.
"We are focusing only on increasing our exports but we should also think of improving our imports and develop a good trade relation with the neighbouring countries."Khanna said: "When I was a student in Cambridge, there were just two-three Indians out of 90 in my class. Now the things have changed. Now people talk more about India. I was amazed by the number of entrepreneurs who participated in the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas." "Here, I feel the Brand India has worked. But it has not been realized. India is certainly not shinning."