Sunday, May 09, 2010

The emerging importance of national economics as the least common denominator of social development

Uproar in the parliament over reservations, and recently over the inclusion of caste as a category of population classification of population, beyond religion, region and economic status. Add to it an ailing national air carrier, a puzzled government unable to identify what’s lacking in its dreams of taking the nation to the next level, and the easiest and most popular answer of “we are like this only.” All this while millions of people in this vibrant country setting goals and standards for themselves and striving hard to deliver on their promises to take us to the next level. Mine is just a little effort to connect the dots: a tiny step to remind ourselves that something can be done. Something that is uncomfortable, yet supportive in moving to the next level. We need to focus on national economics as the basic common denominator in our journey to social development. Here are some possible steps:

  • Caste-based reservations should go

Decades ago, while the founding fathers of this great nation recognized the need of social development of the underprivileged citizens, little have they thought that reservations/quotas could be a weapon of choice for politicians in their hunger for power. Since the main purpose it seeks is to uplift a downtrodden community to invite its contribution to the nation building process. And such a support need not be there forever. Instead, it should be a one-time process providing the individual/family an opportunity to grow, and reach a position from where he/she/they can take it forward themselves. There should also be a mechanism in place to monitor the benefit of this reservation provided to this individual/family and the way he/she/they have grown economically.

  • Mechanism to measure productivity of governmental/public sector workforce needs to be implemented

Each government employee should have a set of tangible goals/targets that is measurable in terms of the value added to the departmental/divisional/PSU-level goals set by the government, as usually done in the promises inside the Parliament. At least the annual increments and bonuses of these employees need to be made proportionate to the employee’s achievement of these goals.

  • Government needs to continue implementing its austerity measures

Any action from the government’s side on minimizing expenses for unimportant issues, are welcome. Please continue doing that.

  • Scrap “sports quotas” before they infect sportsmanship

Let’s start separating government departments from sportsmen. It is important that the government should support sportsmen and athletes. But let this be undertaken through authorities like the Indian Olympic Association or the Sports Authority of India, or any such organization specifically designed to undertake developmental activities in sports and athletics. It is always better to grow sportsmen independently. But for the government departments, it is important to stick to their mission statements (if they have such statements) and not spend on sports quotas, especially if the department/PSU is not in good economic health.

Simple, but strong solid steps can guide India towards economic development and fulfill the dream of becoming a developed nation.