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Unemployed youth are wasted human resources and fuel for social unrest. The governments of developing as well as developed countries are realizing that the creation of more jobs may be their job #1. A survey of Indian citizens' views of the performance of Prime Minister Modi's government reveals they are most dissatisfied with its inability to produce more jobs. They want the government to make the creation of more jobs its highest priority now on.
The world is moving on two tracks which are not converging. On one track are institutions concerned with a narrowly defined 'economy', and with GDP. On the other track are institutions concerned with what GDP does not measure--environmental sustainability, human dignity, livelihoods, and justice--the concerns of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).The two worlds -- of GDP and SDGs -- must come together.
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Flags, anthems, and slogans are only symbols. What they represent is what matters. Indian universities have been commanded to fly the national flag on a very high pole, ostensibly to make students better nationals. One hopes that the flag is made of the prescribed materials, and in the prescribed dimensions and colors, and does not dishonor the nation. More importantly, one wonders if the students and their teachers know the meaning of the flag.
Whilst debates about what India's Finance Minister should do on 29 February are getting into a frenzy, there is agreement that India's GDP needs to increase by around 10% per annum for at least two decades, as China's did, for India to transform itself. India must complete a marathon, not waste its energy in sprints. Consider three critical subjects that the Finance Minister will have to deal with in the Budget. These are taxation, provisions for building infrastructure and the development of the social sector.
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India envies China, which, by growing a huge manufacturing industry -- employing hundreds of millions of persons making almost everything from low-end toys to high-speed trains -- has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, much faster than India has. Prime Minister Modi's government has launched several programs for India to catch up: Make in India, Stand Up Start Up India and Skills India. However, India will have to follow a very different strategy to China's.
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It is wrong to blame 'democracy' for India's weaknesses in implementation. Many other countries which are proudly democratic, such as Germany, Canada, and the Scandinavian countries, are able to get things done very efficiently. They too have many ministries with different charters, and they too have stakeholders with divergent interests.
The principal questions foreign investors would ask me until recently were about the health of the Indian economy. Now another question is being asked too: what is happening to India's social fabric? Astute investors know that the condition of a country's society can have salient effects on its economic progress. The concern of Indian citizens is even deeper. For them, "development" does not have only an economic dimension. They fear that the tearing of the nation's social fabric is a price not worth paying for faster growth of GDP.