We are standing at the doorstep of a bright new year, 2013, and simultaneously, the UPA Government will also be stepping into its 10th year. The coming year will also be extremely important from the political perspective as the country will prepare itself for the next general elections in early 2014.
Reflecting on the past nine years of the UPA-I and UPA-II governments, we can certainly claim to have lived up to people’s expectations. While there will always remain a scope for improvement, we have been able to largely achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth while maintaining the secular fabric and keeping national unity and integrity as the top priority.
There have been many occasions, particularly in the recent past when a negative perception about the government’s performance was created by malicious political campaign, over-enthusiastic analysts and at times vested interests and phrases like “policy paralysis” cropped up. However, as actions speak louder than words, the government has successfully overcome such perceptions through its concrete and measurable action and the results are evident. However, we cannot and we will not relax, instead continuously strive to put India on top of the world map.
To my mind, the agenda for the next five years or a decade should focus on reforms. While tremendous achievements have been made in the field of economic reforms, there is still a lot of scope to back it up with administrative reforms, governance reforms and reforms in the human resources management.
The best capital at our disposal is human capital. We will have to cater to the needs and aspirations of our huge and progressive young population in order to reap the demographic dividend. Channelising the energy of our strong and vibrant middle class is extremely crucial to realising the potential of the modern world. We should strive for the greatest concentration of innovation and entrepreneurship.
I am reminded of an interesting observation made by one of the most successful entrepreneurs of the world, Steve Jobs.
Jobs said, “The people in the Indian countryside don’t use their intellect like we do, they use their intuition instead, and the intuition is far more developed than in the rest of the world…Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. Western rational thought is not an innate human characteristic, it is learned and it is the great achievement of Western civilisation. In the villages of India, they never learned it. They learned something else, which is in some ways just as valuable but in other ways is not. That’s the power of intuition and experiential wisdom.”
For the economic boom to be sustained, the country has to move not only along a trajectory of high sustained growth, but also high levels of social stability and public tranquillity. For this to happen, the government has to go beyond the daily dose of crisis management and administration. It also has to do more than hold the fort.
Along with the government, the civil society, intellectuals, media and the political class have to work together towards this.
Let me end with a famous quote of Swami Vivekananda:
“I see in my mind’s eye the future perfect India rising out of this chaos and strife, glorious and invincible, with Vedanta brain and Islam body.”
Wish you all a happy and prosperous new year!
(The author is minister of petroleum and natural gas and former chief minister of Karnataka)