The year gone by was in many ways a tough one for our nation. A series of events — in the political arena and the broader economy — coupled with the continuing global economic crisis had put a question mark in the minds of the people about the great Indian growth story. The world watched in amazement as a series of events unfolded. Suddenly, from being an emerging superpower, we have started questioning our own ability. Growth was seen coming to a grinding halt. Simply put, we had a crisis of confidence.
Yes, it was all about the mood of the nation that had turned away from the huge positivity seen in the last decade.
Fundamentally, we were always on a strong wicket and I must add we still are. Given the perilous state of the global economy, we are still in a very good place with 6% growth. While some may argue that this may not be sufficient, I would be happy to take it any day under the current circumstances. I feel the government has done a reasonably good job of steering the ship.
More recently, the government’s efforts to revive the animal spirits in the economy through a series of brave reforms like FDI in retail and aviation sectors are very welcome and India seems to be on the move again. The sentiment on the economic front is gradually improving and I am confident things will only get better from here with the remaining reforms implemented.
Economic reforms are the only way forward for India and the private investment, both Indian and FDI, in various sectors is necessary to multiply the government’s efforts to elevate millions out of poverty and promote inclusive growth. The private sector has played a massive role in India’s transformation — be it telecom to aviation to financial services to shopping malls — and in the process generated millions of jobs and prosperity. Suggestions of ‘crony capitalism’ are a big disservice to these efforts and I can say with pride that some of the Indian corporations are at par with their global peers and have set the standards in corporate governance and philanthropy.
Another big change this year came in the form of the emergence of so-called ‘civil society’ and their entry into the political arena. It is important to have their voice in a mature democracy like ours as it speaks volumes for our Constitution which allows free speech. However, it is important that their efforts are constructive and all issues get highlighted/discussed, but not at the expense of our growth story. In the same vein, I would also urge the mainstream opposition parties to play a constructive role and support the government in critical areas while performing their duty of an Opposition.
While the government has taken a series of bold steps recently, going forward, I hope they are able to deliver a few more brave economic decisions, while the country gets into the election mode.
These will provide a strong platform to take growth back to over 8-9% and strengthen the faith of people in our institutions and the economy.
In particular, on the telecom front, I hope the industry finds the strength to emerge from what has been a rather challenging period. The industry has put a phone in the hands of nearly 700 million people, at the most affordable tariffs, and the era of high-speed wireless broadband on 3G and 4G networks awaits a nation ‘on the move’.
(The author is founder, chairman and group CEO of Bharti Enterprises)