Professor Sarat Mahanta Memorial Lecture
By Jayant Sinha
India's innovators and entrepreneurs are building a frugal and innovative economy that works for not just the people at the top of the economic pyramid, but also for those at the base of the economic pyramid.
Therefore, just like the United States is the entrepreneurial engine for the Most Affluent One Billion on the planet, India now has the opportunity to become the entrepreneurial engine for the Next 6 Billion people on the planet. This is the Next World and we can be the leaders in serving this Next World.
HOW OUR GOVERNMENT IS REDEFINING THE INDIAN STATE
So if we have the opportunity to become the leaders of the developing world, this Next World, what is our government doing to make it happen? I come now to my fil theme.
Both the Honorable Prime Minister and the Honorable Fince Minister have stated over and over again that we are a pro-poor government. India's poor have the first right to the government's resources and all our efforts must be oriented around elimiting poverty in India. This is not a political necessity; this is our moral responsibility, our RajDharma.
Now because we are a pro-poor government, we are also a pro-market government. We want to ensure that our markets develop well, that we follow pro-competitive policies, and our companies become world-leaders.Only if our markets flourish, only if our entrepreneurs build great companies, only if we create millions of jobs for our young people, and only if we generate sufficient tax revenues and economic surplus, will we be able to serve our poor and elimite the curse of poverty and deprivation from our country.
As we follow our pro-poor, pro-market policies, we have to move the Indian state away from being aNehruvian sarkar to becoming aKautilyan sarkar. The Nehruvian or mai-baap sarkar has been the ruling ideology for most of independent India. In fact, it is deeply rooted in India's long history of Rajas, Maharajas, wabs, and Sultans – it is associated with feudal, dystic rule. But we must challenge this orthodoxy because the Nehruvian sarkar is neither serving the citizen nor the state well.
The citizen is poorly served by the Nehruvian sarkar that focuses on entitlement programs. Hundreds of academic studies have shown that these programs do not work as planned. Nearly seven decades after Independence, we still have hundreds of millions of people living in extreme poverty, over 40 % of our children are malnourished, our young people are worried about securing quality jobs, we are facing a public health catastrophe through non-communicable diseases, and our cities are becoming unlivable. No wonder we are frustrated and angry.We all want India to do much, much better.
Is there a way out of this mess created by this socialist / populist Nehruvian sarkar? Can we find a way to foster India's entrepreneurial economy while lessening the heavy hand of the Nehruvian sarkar?
Yes, there is a way to redefine the role of the Indian state. Simply put, we must move from a Nehruvian sarkar to aKautilyan sarkar.The government has to get off the playing field and let the citizens be the players. We cannot have the state be the umpire and also play most of the game while citizens watch from the sidelines. The role of the state has to be defined as establishing and enforcing the rules and letting citizens be the players on the field.We must have minimum government, maximum governce. Our state has to be policy-driven, non-discretiory, and rule-based.
Thus the state must ensure the rule of law, property and tency rights, and fincial inclusion in every village, slum, and mohalla in the country. Indeed,our government is strengthening the judiciary and the police across the country.The state must strengthen our regulatory bodies and make sure that they are independent. That is exactly what our government is doing with RBI, SEBI, TRAI, the new Real Estate Regulator, NHAI, and so on.The state must ensure necessary public infrastructure through investment and land acquisition. Our government is doing that by massively stepping up investment in roads, highways, bridges, railways, and digital connectivity.
(To be continued)
(Jayant Sinha is India's Minister of State for Civil Aviation and a Lok Sabha Member of Parliament from Hazaribagh, Jharkhand.These are his persol views.)