Business for the people, by the people, of the people
Monday, August 10, 2009
Mahatma Gandhi gave independent India’s leaders a test for their policies. Consider how they will benefit the poorest man, he said.
India’s Constitution gave political freedom to all Indians. All, rich and poor, men and women, were given the right to vote: before the US and several European countries had given such rights to their citizens.
In the 1990s, new policies brought economic freedoms to Indians that they had been denied earlier: the freedom to start and expand businesses, accumulate wealth, and even venture abroad. With these freedoms, the economy began to grow and Indian businessmen appeared on the world’s stage.
In 2004, millions of Bharatis, using their freedom to vote, reminded the newly shining Indians that the masses were not included sufficiently in the benefits of the economic growth that followed economic liberalisation. Since that election, inclusion became the political mantra in India again. And with its emphasis on inclusion, the Congress won an even stronger mandate in 2009.
India sits on a demographic time bomb. Its economic growth is not providing decent jobs and incomes to everyone. Hundreds of millions of youth, who are expected to give India a demographic dividend, can be a huge liability unless the country alters its pattern of industrialisation to include more people more rapidly in the benefits of economic growth.