The most important role of an elected government lies in boosting the economy. Economic growth has the power to pull out millions of people from poverty. It helps to realize a nation’s inhabitants the magic of their full potential. It is the need of the hour that our national discourse keeps this important subject in the center giving it the due importance. Doing so will require a collective effort from each section of our society. The media has to play a significant part in the development of this discourse.
In the year 1960, India’s nominal GDP was 16 % more than that of China. In the 1980s, India and China had nearly the same nominal GDP. In 2019, the nominal GDP of China stands at 14.25 trillion dollars while that of India is nearly 3 trillion dollars only. China’s economy has become nearly five times that of India in the past 30 years. By the year 2024, according to IMF projections, the nominal GDP of China will be more than 21 trillion dollars while that of India shall be about 4.75 trillion dollars.
Clearly, China did some early reforms and took advantage of the compounding effect. However, India needs to close this gap and take sufficient steps to boost economic growth. I believe the full potential of the Indian economy needs to be channelized and growth exceeding 10 percent can be achievable.
Focus on developing human capital: In the year 1950, India and China had similar HDI scores at a very low level of 0.16. But, in the year 1973, China’s HDI score was much higher at 0.407 while India lagged behind at a score of 0.289. The Chinese focussed on improving health and education in the initial years before they boosted national per capita income. India’s HDI score is still below 6.5, and the government spendings on health and education still below than it should be. India spends less than 1.4 % of its GDP on healthcare which is less than many of the low-income countries. It allocates only 3 % of its GDP on education and fails to even fully utilize the allocated budget. People are the drivers of a nation’s economy. India needs to raise its standards in terms of healthcare, education and upskilling people to boost economic growth.
Move Indians out of the agriculture sector into manufacturing and services. About half of the Indian labour force belongs to the agricultural sector. Though productivity can be enhanced by mechanization and usage of scientific techniques, there are far more people than required in the agricultural sector. Value creation based on indigenous innovation and the creation of manufacturing hubs such as SEZs could be facilitated. Building institutions that are cutting-edge in R and D, as well as upskilling people with an entrepreneurial mindset, could be a game-changer. The institutions need to be inclusive and geared up to take the responsibility of shaping millions of Indian lives. In order to achieve exponential growth, a culture of innovation and excellence needs to be grown. Creative and risk taking attitudes can be developed to harness the strength of human potential in order to manufacture goods that can be exported as valued products overseas.
Indian women could uplift the economy: The coming decades are once in a lifetime opportunity to boost the nation’s growth and uplift millions out of poverty. If girls are nurtured and upskilled with this mindset, they can contribute equally in order to set India into an economic powerhouse of the world.
India needs to transform itself into a trade surplus nation: China has a trade surplus of more than 450 billion dollars while India has a trade deficit of about 100 billion dollars. It needs to decrease its dependence on imported oil and work day and night to create avenues for valued exports. It should work on increasing its valuable natural resources as well as add value to the imports to export them as more valuable goods with the help of its skilled labour force.
India should not settle for less than 10 % growth in the coming decades: India is at a stage where it can reap a demographic dividend. All it needs to be done is to encourage institutions to build human potential on a scale that can yield exponential growth. If as a nation we become obsessed with the idea of realizing our full economic potential then it can be done. In order to do that, we must create a national economic discourse and stay away from the divisive, polarizing and unproductive discourse that we often see in the media. We must shift our attention from Pakistan to China and Bangladesh. Indians should work hard to regain the glory of the ‘Golden Age of Indian History’ where we dominated the world economically, spiritually as well as scientifically.