Even as we celebrate India’s positive economic strides, we need to work to overcome the challenges that stand in the way of true, inclusive growth. The meeting of the World Economic Forum in India gives us the opportunity to reflect on how the country can achieve its economic and social potential.
While the rest of the world is stumbling back from the economic brink, the macro-economic indicators of developing economies such as India and China are bringing smiles to even the most pessimistic world-watcher. And the India story is frankly irresistible. A GDP growth rate that could possibly be just shy of double-digit by next year, the stock market index near its all-time high and the three economic pillars of agriculture, industry and services standing tall and sturdy – the Indian growth narrative is convincing and far-reaching and inspiring. But is this enough?
The India Summit brings together leaders from the government, business as well as the non-government sector. The theme of this year’s Summit is “Implementing India”. Last year, the discussion concluded that the macro-successes of the economy must be extended to those at the margins. India needed an agenda to map out inclusive growth, a term that I hear very often today. This year, the Summit hopes to convert ideas into action and set wheels in motion to further transform India.
For this to happen, we need to understand the challenges that face us. On the flip side of the shining image is the fact that we still face large budget deficits, public debt, and high inflation. And then there are other indicators, such as being ranked 104th for health and primary education in the Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011. The rates of communicable diseases and infant mortality are high, as are the instances of diabetes, heart diseases and cancer. Early diagnostics and quality treatment can go a long way in bringing these figures down.
In fact, providing access to quality and affordable healthcare to even the remotest corners of the country has to be one of the prime concerns of the government. Another matter that India is working on, and needs to do more about, is quality infrastructure, especially in the area of energy. Clean, renewable sources of energy, like nuclear, wind and bio-gas, need to be tapped further to take the pressure off the non-renewable resources.
Any India story is incomplete without addressing these and other challenges.