A Story of Private Success and Public Failure

Source: The post is based on an article “A story of private success and public failure” published in The Times of India on 20th August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 Important Provisions of the Constitution of India;

News: India is celebrating its 75th Year of Independence. Therefore, it becomes important to assess India’s achievements.

Background: In April 2011, during the Arab Spring movement, India was asked to answer three important questions. Further, India was also asked to provide the India Model for Egypt’s future

(1) How did you keep the generals out of power?

(2) How did you become one of the fastest growing economies in the world (and a global outsourcer of IT services)?

(3) How did India create social harmony in the most diverse place on earth? In other words, how India had managed to have such a moderate Muslim population. The question reflected the Arab Spring’s fear of radical Islam.

In other words, the three questions point to the three key attributes of a successful nation: (1) Democracy, (2) Prosperity, and (3) Social harmony.

Building blocks of India’s success

(1) Democracy: Andre Malraux said that “India was lucky to have been founded by saints, i.e., liberators with clean hands. For example, Jawaharlal Nehru deserves the most credit for embedding democracy and the rule of law, which was an exceptional achievement among post-colonial societies. This was in stark contrast to Pakistan, which got liberated and side by side turned into ‘an army with a country’.

(2) Unfettering the economy:

(a) Pre-1991: In the early years, India became a socialist country. It resulted in a command economy that was based on a License Raj. Due to this, India missed a lot of economic opportunities prior to 1991.

(b) Post-1991: India undertook economic reforms in 1991. Since then, India has adopted a lot of slow reforms like cutting red tapism, license raj, etc.  This resulted into

India’s IT revolution

Due to this, India became the world’s fastest-growing major economy. Further, India’s poverty decreased and the middle class has grown.

(3) The minority question: Even after 75 years, India has remained united despite so many predictions of our breaking up. This has been because average life expectancy has risen from 32 years to 70 years. Literacy has gone up from 12% to 78%. The extremely poor (defined by $1. 90 income per day) declined from 70% to 21% in 2011. 90% of the people have access to electricity, versus 50% in 1995. There are other areas of development. Indeed, some mishappenings have taken place in India which makes Muslims in India no longer feel secure. But these have happened at the fringe level

The unfinished agenda: India could have done better. There are some areas, which could have been handled better:

(1) India has been unable to provide quality education and healthcare due to poor governance at the Central and state level. For example, one in four teachers is absent illegally in a government primary school and only one of the two present is teaching. Similar statistics describe the government’s primary health centers.

(2) India’s greatest challenge is bad governance and weak institutions. For example, it takes around 15 years to get justice in India, 3/4th of the persons in jail are under trial; and 1/3rd of India’s MPs and MLAs have a criminal record.

What should be the future course of action?

India has risen from below, through the energy and ingenuity of its people, almost despite the state. It is quite unlike the top-down success of East Asian countries, which were steered skillfully by the state.

India should fix its governance institutions as soon as possible. Otherwise, it will not become a developed country.

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