Rajya Sabha member and former revenue secretary N.K. Singh believes that “good politics leads to good economics”.
At a panel discussion marking the release of his book Not By Reason Alone: The Politics of Change, hosted by the London School of Economics (LSE) on India’s 60th Republic Day, Singh pointed out the 11.03 per cent growth in Bihar (between 2004-05 and 2008-09) was the result of governance becoming a priority.
HT Media Ltd Chairperson Shobhana Bhartia released the book and outlined the political challenges facing India’s economic leap forward. “The big challenges are an Opposition which opposes for the sake of opposing, and that of coalition politics…We need to pull together to ensure India’s growth and cannot allow parochial interests to subsume our national interest,” Bhartia said.
Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, academic Lord Meghnad Desai, University of Oxford Chancellor Chris Patten, LSE Professor of Economics and Government Lord Nicholas Stern, Express Group Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta and Financial Express Managing Editor M.K. Venu attended the panel discussion, which followed the book launch.
NDTV Group Editor (English News) Barkha Dutt moderated the discussion and interaction with students.
Singh, who played a key role in India’s economic reforms in the 1990s, spoke on the need to continue reforms.
Ambani was optimistic. “I see India as a land of a billion opportunities, not a land of a billion problems.” He added that India had “less baggage” than recession-hit countries and with a “strong balance sheet”, the country was in a “great position” to have 9 per cent as the default growth rate even as it had the “potential” of reaching at least 11 per cent. “Employment is the biggest challenge in the coming years. We are not moving fast enough,” Ambani said.
Considering that India recorded a 7 per cent rate of growth in the last two years of economic downturn, Ahluwalia thought that India “has done exceptionally well”. He added that reforms were all about “restructuring the government”.
Patten underlined India's resilience as a democratic nation. Despite being a “fan” of China’s economic success, the former Governor of Hong Kong said, “India does not lock up people; it does not have famines and there has not been a single Indian member of al-Qaeda. All this says something about India’s stability.”