The Future of India
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Bimal Jalan, one of India’s well known economists and a former governor of the RBI has brought out the relationship between politics, economics and governance and their consequences in a very perspicuous way.
He emphasises the need for more participation in democracy, as the benefits which can be derived are high. He says that ‘Corrective action is feasible only if there is more effective political participation by the ordinary citizen-in short, fuller practice of democracy.’
He has tried his best to unwrap and unravel the morass of bureaucracy.
‘Political parties are now subservient to their leaders, and not to the people who sustain them.’
‘The selection for the civil service posts at all levels of government at the centre and states is truly independent of political interference.’ He recognises and posits absolute transparency in the selection of civil servants, but he goes on to say that ‘While politicians are free to overrule the advice rendered by civil servants, the advisory functions of the bureaucracy are expected to be performed without regard to their impact on the private interests of politicians and the party in power.’
‘Political leaders deliver what civil service unions demand by way of pay, security of service, leave, working hours and creation of jobs. In their turn, civil servants deliver what the politicians want in terms of power and favours. The casualty is the public interest.’ The knot between the politicians and the bureaucrats is tight and one cannot live without the support of the other.
Bimal Jalan has brought out the adverse impacts of delays in judiciary, a very integral part of the constitutional framework of a country and brings to our notice the growing disjuncture between politics and economics.
Jalan on coalitions: ‘These coalitions are always more interested in influencing the distribution of wealth and income in their favour rather than in the generation of additional output which has to be shared with the rest of the society.’
He has enumerated the problems that have befallen the public delivery systems like lack of accountability, fiscal stringency etc.
‘Corruption is a major hurdle in growth, development and poverty alleviation.’
‘Corruption is also an important cause of fiscal drain and higher inflation in developing societies.’
‘Thus, another economic effect of corruption is that it further aggravates inequality in an already unequal society.’
One of the main reasons for the proliferation of bribes is that ‘If administrative rules and regulations are complex and involve multiple agencies acting at cross purposes, then the public has no option but to purchase the required permits, licenses and registrations by paying bribes.’
Thus, Bimal Jalan has brought out the main causes of the underperformance by India in the economic, social and political spheres. He has also put forth remedies which seek to enhance the efficacy of the government. It is a book which deserves to be read by all those who want to know India or change India.