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Rewind on reforms

India as a reforms child is like a bubbly teenager: plenty of potential and miles to go. More riches, all around

business Updated: Mar 01, 2011 01:28 IST

Reforms in India have come to a man's estate after two decades of adolescent angst. The doubts have been left behind by a generation born after 1991 for whom the fruits of economic liberalisation are available in the nearest mall.

The turnaround is there for everyone to see. India bought itself some glitter two Diwalis ago. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) purchased of 200 tonnes of gold from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The symbolism is inescapable in a country that worships the yellow metal and for a country that pawned gold not too long ago.

Few events capture the new resilient rate of growth as dramatically as the Sensex crossing 20,000. Leaving most of the world behind, it had taken just 32 months for Indian stocks to reclaim the peak they had run up to before the Great Crash. India was among the first major economies to shrug off the credit crisis, the subsequent stock market rally is a celebration of this remarkable feat.

If the first two decades of reforms were about proof of concept — growth with equity — the next decade will be about proof of delivery. There are signs that life for the common Indian will likely change for the better in the coming decades.

Economic reforms in India, it is sometimes said, are akin to the hour hand of a clock that you rarely see moving. Of late, however, it has been a pleasant surprise to find a flurry of reformist intent, if not downright action.

With manhood comes greater responsibility: to see modern aspirations, and the means to achieving them, are cast wider for a nation of young Indians. The right jobs must be created alongside skills to land them. The trickle of welfare must rise to a flood as the economy sprints ahead. Above all, a new maturity must show itself in the way we go about governing ourselves.

In the final analysis, profit maximisation, policy reforms and equity should cease to be mutually exclusive objectives. This is beginning to happen and the signs are encouraging.