Indian economy taking wrong turns; requires course correction

Hyderabad: Centre for Research on Infrastructure Development & Policy (CRIDP), in partnership with Westland Publication, launched a book, All the wrong turns–Perspectives on the Indian Economy, at Lamakaan on February 13.

The book is co-authored by T.C.A Ranganathan and T.C.A Srinivasa Raghavan. Ranganathan is the former Chairman and MD of EXIM Bank and MD of State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur. On the other hand, Raghavan is a renowned economic and political analyst.

The event was attended, among others, by Y.V Reddy, former RBI Governor and V. Bhaskar, former Special Chief Secretary, Andhra Pradesh. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Amir Ullah Khan, Professor at Marri Channa Reddy Human Resource Development Institute, CRHRDI, ISB, NALSAR and TISS.

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The book All the wrong turns… is an exploratory analysis into the economic, political, constitutional and administrative architecture of India. It investigates the factors and policies that have limited the development of the country. The key areas on which the book focusses include agriculture, manufacturing, foreign trade, banking, civil services, constitution and institutions.

The book contains six essays, some of which are backed by data that leads to a grim picture of the state of the economy.

The authors and the speakers while discussing their book made some interesting recommendations for course correction.

For one, The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) must be split into two parts – one managing policy and the other managing districts. They also questioned the futility of the concurrent list and whether it should be totally done away with. The panel also dealt with institutions in the country, their mandate and their much-debated autonomy.

The discussants highlighted the slow implementation of reforms in the country as well as the lack of trust in center-state relations. The panelists expressed concerns regarding the state of infrastructure and where it is headed. They lamented the poor urban governance and lop-sided urbanization in cities.

The speakers critiqued demonetisation for not producing the intended objectives and causing a drop in the level of economic activity.

Taxation was another issue that garnered a serious debate. Income tax has not had an egalitarian outcome as was intended but basically has necessitated the working class to pay for the upkeep of those who contribute absolutely nothing to it.

The authors suggested that in order to boost agriculture the government needed to move towards income support mechanisms rather production distorting subsidies.

The book was critiqued for not having mentioned the overburdened judiciary and lack of corrective measures to reform it. The guest speakers raised several questions with regards to whether there were any right turns in the development policy.

To conclude, strengthening the economy was an important prerogative for the country while shelving aside the open vs. closed economy debate.

Moreover, Public Policy must eliminate risks rather than accentuating them. In current climate of uncertainty, it is extremely important to review the acts, laws and policies to meet the changes as well as define structures to guard the guardians.

The one-size-fits-all approach needs to be shed in order to revive the flailing Indian economy, innovations being the need of the hour.

The evening witnessed a good turnout with students, activists, academics and businessmen participating in the talk. The panelists also took up questions from the audience at Lamakaan.

Centre for Research on Infrastructure Development & Policy is a think tank working towards the goal of a smoother more equitable Public- Private Partnership.  It is an independent organisation working to influence public policy with a focus on the development of infrastructure, mainly aviation and road transport.

It is involved in research, advocacy, training, and outreach to disseminate its research findings.

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